Analysis of Toni Morrison’s Jazz
In Toni Morrison’s Jazz, the character Violet Trace finds it challenging in her struggles to get used to life in the Harlem after she travels from the rural South to the North. Violet migrates to the North in Harlem as part of the African American Great Migration from the rural South. Violet travel to the North due to the brutal economic times faced in the postbellum in the South as well as the traumatic experience of the Great Migration. Violet’s transformation takes place three major stages about her interaction with outstanding female characters in the novel. These characters include Dorcas who is her husband’s lover, Felice who is a young woman in the community and a close ally of Dorcas and Alice who is an aunt to Dorcas. This identifies and particularly that Violet going through the three major stages, with every stage associated with her interaction with the three primary characters in the novel.
Violet’s core reason for traveling to Harlem city is in search of employment, freedom as well as better income and “glamour. As a result, of Violet and her husband, Joe moving away from their home to the Harlem city in search of survival indicates some feelings of distance. To most of the African Americans in the South, “the North seems to be a perfect inspiration for freedom till the time they reach there and experience it by themselves. Certainly, Violet experiences a change in her identity as well as her ecological setting, especially the City which help her in her transformations. The initial phase of Violet’s life consists of her life while in the South, her travel to the North as well as the passing of Dorcas Manfred, a lover to her husband. At this time, Violet get influenced by the City, Joe and True Belle her grandmother. Violet’s sense of self-gives away to Joe’s masculinity projection, to True Belle’s yearnings in addition to the City’s hastened speed.
In the second stage of Violet’s change, she bears a resemblance to a silent woman that Morrison portrays in the letter where he writes that “Hell is twin, silence, and slavery comes later. Still you were like no other. Not because you suffered more or longer, but because of what you knew and did before, during and following that suffering. No one knew your weight till you left them to carry their own. But you knew. You said “Excuse me, am I in the way? knowing all the while that you were the way. You had this canny ability to shape an untenable reality, mould it, sing it, and reduce it to its manageable, transforming essence, which is a knowing so deep it is like a secret. In your silence, enforced or chosen, lay not only eloquence but discourse so devastating that “civilization could not risk engaging in it lest it lose the ground it stomped. Therefore, her silence causes mayhem to Harlem community as well as inwards to her feelings of isolation and self-doubt. Thus, it is at this point when Violet comes across Alice Manfred, the aunt to Dorcas, who offers her support in realising and identifying her pain, which changes her personality. Violets last but least change in her life happens through the influence of Felice who happens to be a friend to Dorcas. On meeting with Felice, Violets decides to let her obsession with the dying of Dorcas go. She then passes on her stagnation knowledge to Felice. Consequently, these women becomes her community, thus help in the changing of Violet’s character.
The first aspect that influences Violet’s life, as well as her personality, does not come from herself but her husband, Joe. By the narrator, Joe is the one who initiates the affair with Dorcas who decide his moment and Violet’s move to New York. The narrator account that the activities that result in their travelling to the City are that Violet strive to make sure that she was close to Joe, thus she obtains a job that makes it possible for her to be physically close to Joe nevertheless, it is Joe who decide the time they should leave for the North. To the contrary, Joe is hooked to South and finds no need to travel to the North. Joe’s actions of power over identity are undercut by the reality that Violet picks him for marriage and that Joe has no interest in the marriage apart from as a means to help him leave the rural South. At first, it is Violet who is powerful and confident, however, on arriving in the city, their positions change. While in the South, Joe experiences discriminatory activities, especially his subjection to the sharecropper economic structure. Subsequently, Joe undergoes suffering from the white masculinity placed on him. Also, his feelings of helplessness come from his abandonment by his mother as well as the treatment of Violet by the Caucasians in the South in addition to the violence of the city directed upon African Americans.
Therefore, when Joe takes over as the narrator, he illustrates that sharecropping had negative impacts in himself. Additionally, he informs the reader that “on his arrival in the city he is attacked. Consequently, on relating this concept, “Joe tries to dismiss the story of success that he used to hear while still in the South. Thus, this depicts that a place has proved to be an influential aspect in the development of one’s identity.
Lastly but not least, while narrating the story of Violet, “Morrison dramatizes Violet’s desire to get her out of poverty, from alienation as well as from her mother’s death in an expert way. On arrival in the city, both the lives of Violet and Joe change since some concepts become unable to translate to urban life. When Joe and Violet travel from the rural South to the North, they run into major differences in social reality. They soon discover that their relations with other individuals as well as things were radically changing from place to place. The only aspect that survives is the idea of community, only that the community in the city was not emotionally close as it used to be in the rural. Thus, to heal from her wounded personality, Violet needs the physical presence of her friend Alice who supports her emotionally. As a result, Violet eventually succeed in changing her personality by getting used to her conditions and accepting the female community.
In my opinion the surrounding a strong and influential aspect in the life of an individual, for instance the urban life becomes a powerful influence in the life of Violet. On the same note, interactions with people such as friends can play a significant role in changing an individual’s life just like the way Alice become a transformative agent to Violet. Therefore, the surrounding under which an individual is raised up or grows in plays a major role in changing a person’s life.