by: Toni Morrison

Section 1

Summary Section 1

The narrator evades any sense of who or what he/she is by saying, "no one knows all there is to know about me," and the mystery of the narrator is never explicitly resolved in the novel. The narrator seems to be female because of the way she speaks and because of the special concern that she has for the women in the narrative. She dwells in the beauty parlors and overhears the gossip or sits in with the neighborhood women's organizations that are deciding on Violet's reputation. Privy to all of this and yet a step removed, the narrator also knows what happens in the privacy of Violet and Joe's apartment in the months following the funeral scandal. She slips through time and takes us back to earlier episodes in which Violet displayed her sadness or acted out crazily. The fluidity of the narrator's speech is reminiscent of a jazz tune that evolves with improvisation and adheres to no set rules.