Jazz

by: Toni Morrison

Important Quotations

Quotes Important Quotations

What was I thinking of? How could I have imagined him so poorly? Not noticed the hurt that was not linked to the color of his skin, or the blood that beat beneath it. But to some other thing that longed for authenticity, for a right to be in this place, effortlessly without needing to acquire a false face, a laughless grin, a talking posture. I have been careless and stupid and it infuriates me to discover (again) how unreliable I am.

Spoken by the narrator, these lines demonstrate the flexibility of Morrison's text and the room that is kept open for multiple readings and interpretations. We are forced to question the very reliability of the author rather than trust implicitly her judgments and biases. Given the scraps of information and history woven into the text, we must come to our own conclusion and we are left, like the narrator, to question preconceptions about a character based on race or class. Furthermore, this interjection characterizes the text as a work in progress, an improvisational piece in which all the kinks have not been ironed out and covered up. In that she is self-deprecating, the narrator reminds us that no single authority exists when it comes to retelling history. In the narration itself, any history becomes a fiction, imbued with the particular vantage point of its teller.