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Jazz

by: Toni Morrison

Important Quotations

Anything that happens after this party breaks up is nothing. Everything is now. It's like war. Everyone is handsome, shining just thinking about other people's blood. As though the red wash flying from veins not theirs is facial makeup patented for its glow. Inspiriting. Glamorous. Afterward there will be some chatter and recapitulation of what went on; nothing though like the action itself and the beat that pumps the heart. In war or at a party everyone is wily, intriguing; goals are set and altered; alliances rearranged.

The narrator interrupts Dorcas's first-person narration of the party with this aside, giving us a panoramic look at the action and providing a feel for the lively, intense atmosphere. The narrator frequently intrudes upon a characters' story-telling to provide such a perspective and frame his or her narration in a larger context. Dorcas's voice works like an instrumental solo and the narrator's words mimic a refrain or chorus. Her use of present tense narration here creates the illusion that we are looking in on an on-going scene while the action unfolds before her eyes. The immediacy provided by this present tense narration allows us to observe and participate. Also, the assertion that there will be "chatter" and "recapitulation" afterwards echoes one of the books main themes, that of story-telling and myth-making. The short and abrupt sentences provide a jazzlike beat and tempo for this passage.