Main Ideas

Key Facts

Main Ideas Key Facts

full title Jazz

author Toni Morrison

type of work Novel

genre Historical narrative

language English (slang with idiomatic expressions)

time and place written United States, 1992

date of first publication April, 1993

publisher Penguin Group

narrator At first the narrator seems to be a middle-aged woman who is part of the Harlem community but later she seems to be more of an Earth spirit or collective consciousness.

climax The climax of the central plot occurs when Joe finds Dorcas at the party and shoots her. However, the novel's many digressions and meanderings back and forth in time offer numerous alternative climaxes and the book as a whole resists a single narrative sequence.

protagonists Violet; Joe

antagonists Depending on whose perspective the reader adheres to, Dorcas, Golden Gray, the white people who repossess the land in Virginia and try to strip the blacks of their dignity

settings (time) Late nineteenth century through the mid-1920s

settings (place) Virginia, Baltimore, New York City ("the City" beeing specifically Harlem)

point of view The point of view shifts throughout the novel but it is primarily that of the ever-elusive narrator

falling action The spring of 1926 when the relationship between Violet and Joe begins to heal

tense Alternates between the present and past tense

foreshadowing The entirety of the Joe-Violet-Dorcas plot is spelled out in the first paragraph of the novel leaving little as a surprise in that story-line; Joe's need to hunt foreshadows his search for his mother and later his lover; Violet's odd behavior in public presages her violent outburst

tones Colloquial; familiar; musical; rhythmic; cool and measured; associative; stream- of-consciousness; universal; mythic

themes Violence; motherhood; race

motifs Migration; orphans; music

symbols Red-wing bird; green dress