by: Toni Morrison

Section 5

Summary Section 5

Also, Violet completes a crime that Alice had longed to commit. When her husband cheated on her, Alice directed her most violent thoughts of revenge at his mistress and probably would have carried them out had her husband not died before she had the chance. Her story had approached its climax, when it was cut short by the sober measures of funeral music. Violet's story recapitulates the earlier theme of Alice's vengeance and carries it all the way to its conclusion. Thus, the shared experience of the women sews their lives together. As a seamstress Alice works at putting things back together, stitching up fallen hems and loose seems. In stitching Violet's coat, Alice helps to put Violet back in shape, restoring her dignity and sense of self. The emotions that find their way into the music are also released and played out by the women and an image of female solidarity is achieved in the scene between Violet and Alice.

The image of Alice's craft is echoed later when Golden Gray thinks of his missing father as an arm or sleeve that has been lost, torn or amputated. The characters of the novel hope to take the fragments of their personality and have them refashioned and reattached to protect against the gaps and holes that keep them from being whole. As Alice considers the newspaper headlines detailing murders, betrayals, rapes, and suicides, she thinks about the violence that seems to characterize the era. She sees a rage infect so many women like Violet and Alice figures that they are mostly "armed" and ready to retaliate. In abstracting out to the larger picture via newspapers and magazines and in sewing together pieces of a fragmented existence, Alice resembles the novel's narrator.