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Jazz. By Toni Morrison Eric A. Yael A. Annie B-L Leighton B. Julien S. Warm Up: Why do you think Toni Morrison decided to reveal the plot of the story in the beginning?. Toni Morrison.

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By Toni Morrison

Eric A.

Yael A.

Annie B-L

Leighton B.

Julien S.

Warm Up: Why do you think Toni Morrison decided to reveal the plot of the story in the beginning?

toni morrison
Toni Morrison
  • Toni Morrison was born to a working class family in Lorain, Ohio, in 1931. Morrison began writing in an unofficial group in Howard University, where she majored in English. She got her Master of Arts degree from Cornell University. There, she wrote a thesis on suicide in the writings of William Faulkner and Virginia Woolf. Morrison has written many honored books that have been nominated and won awards, such as The Bluest Eye, Song of Solomon, and Beloved. In 1988 she won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and in 1993, she won the Noble Prize in Fiction.
  • "That was Dorcas, all right. Young but wise. She was Joe's personal sweet--like candy. It was the best thing, if you were young and had just got to the City. That and the clarinets and even they were called licorice sticks. But Joe has been in the City twenty years and isn't young anymore. I imagine him as one of those men who stop somewhere around sixteen. Inside. So even though he wears button-up-the-front sweaters and round-toed shoes, he's a kid, a strapling, and candy could still make him smile. He likes those peppermint things last the live-long day, and thinks everybody else does too. Passes them out to Gistan's boys clowning on the curb. You could tell they'd rather chocolate or something with peanuts." (Page 120-121)
  • Morrison uses a lot of detail when describing the characters personal feelings, mostly because the book is from the point of view of the characters, and not one of a third person narrator. While the descriptions are vague, they still give the reader a good idea of what is going on without telling every single detail. Morrison leaves the interpretation of what things in a given setting look like up to the reader. 
  • "Animals are somewhere; he can smell them, but the little house looks empty, if not cast-off completely. Certainly the owner never expected a horse and carriage to arrive--the fence gate is wide enough for a stout woman but no more. He unharnesses the horse and walks it a way to the right and discovers, behind the cabin and under a tree he does not know the name of, two open stalls, one of which is full of shapes. Leading the horse he hears behind him a groan form the woman, but doesn't stop to see whether she is walking or dying or falling off the seat. Close up on the stalls he sees that the shapers are tubs, sacks, lumber, wheels, a broken plow, a butter press and a metal trunk. There is a stake too, and he ties the horse to it. Water, he thinks. Water for the horse. What he thinks is a pump in the distance is an ax handle still lodged in a stump." (Page 151) 
  • Morrison uses a lot of vague imagery, which allows you to interpret the scene as you would like. She does not go into specifics like color, and appearance of objects, she just tells you the minimum you need to know so you can visualize the scene for yourself. She is usually very vague at first, then as the descriptions continue, she tells you a little more so you can figure out what is going on. This is seen when she says "one of which is full of shapes." This leaves the reader very confused at first because full of shapes can mean anything, but then she continues to mention that there were wheels, tubs, and sacks, which were obviously the shapes she was talking about. Morrison also appeals to the five senses, like in this passage she mentions smell, sight, and hearing to give the reader a full sensory experience when reading. 
  • “I’ve seen the eyes of black Jews, brimful of pity for everyone not themselves, graze the food stalls and the ankles of loose women…A colored man floats out of the sky blowing a saxophone, and below him, in the space between two buildings, a girl talks earnestly to a man in a straw hat. He touches her lip to remove a bit of something there. Suddenly she is quiet. He tilts her chin up. They stand there…The man puts his hand on the stone wall above her head. By the way his jaw moves and the turn of his head I know he has a golden tongue.” (Page 8)
  • Toni Morrison’s writing is in between informal and formal. The words that she uses aren’t difficult to understand. She also uses a number of abstracts. For example in the quote she says “A colored man floats out of the sky blowing a saxophone” and “By the way his jaw moves and the turn of his head I know he has a golden tongue”. Toni Morrison’s vocabulary is also euphonious; she uses words that aren’t harsh such as “floats” and “golden”.
  • “‘Women,’ answers Violet. ‘Women wear me down. No man ever wore me down to nothing. It’s these little hungry girls acting like women. Not content with boys their own age, no, they want somebody old enough to be their father. Switching round with lipstick, see-through stockings, dresses up to their you-know-what”’ ‘That’s my ear, girl! You going to press it too?’ ‘Sorry. I’m sorry. Really, really sorry.’ And Violet stops to blow her nose and blot tears with the back of her hand.” (Page 14)
  • This quote shows Toni Morrison’s use of language in her stories. Characters speak in a way so the reader can visualize a scene perfectly. Morrison also uses language to portray her characters as strong women. This is something that is in many of Morrison’s texts. Morrison uses many idiomatic expressions in her writing, although none are visible in the selected quote. The characters all speak in very specific ways. Language of the time and setting is spoken by characters and adds to the reader’s ability to visualize the scene. Morrison made a point to have the language in the story similar to the book’s namesake, jazz. In jazz, there are calm parts that can be interrupted abruptly and there is a lot of improvisation. When people speak emotionally, this is how they act.
  • “She forgot which way to turn the key in the lock, that Violet not only knew the knife was in the parrot’s cage and not in the kitchen draw, that Violet remembered that what she did not: scraping marble form the parrot’s claws and beak weeks ago. She had been looking for that knife for a month. Couldn’t for the life of her think what she’d done with it. But that Violet knew and went right to it. Knew too where the funeral was going on, although it could not have been but one of two places, come to think of it. Still, that Violet knew which one of the two, and the right time to get there.” (Page 90)
  • In this passage, Toni Morrison uses a lot of repetition, which it makes the passage sound more poetic. The repetition of the word that really drives the purpose of what the character is thinking in to our heads. Each sentence is a continuation of what that Violet, compared to the old Violet, was doing. Morrison uses very long sentences. There are many paragraphs in the book that consist of just one sentence. These sentences are broken up by commas, making them seem more well written than a run of sentence. “Heads are turning to look where I am falling. It’s dark and now it’s light. I am lying on my bed…” (Page 192). That is one of the few places where short sentences are used. When short sentences are used, they are typically in a part of the plot that is dramatic and suspenseful.
  • “Eighteen ninety-three was the third time I changed. That was when Vienna burned to the ground. Red fire doing fast what white sheets took too long to finish; emptying us out of our places so fast we went running from one part of the country to another – or nowhere. I walked and worked, worked and walked, me and Victory, fifteen miles to Palestine. That’s where I met violet. We got married and set up on Harlon Ricks’ place near Tyrell. He owned the worst land in the county. Violet and me worked his crops for two years. when the soul ran out, when rocks was the biggest harvest, we at what I shot. Then old man Ricks got fed up and sold the place along with our debt to a man called Clayton Bede. The debt rose from one hundred eighty dollars to eight hundred under him…” (Page 126)
  • In the beginning of the passage Morrison gives an over view of events that express the mood and emotion of the passage. This allows the reader to get completely relaxed with the scene and to feel what the character is feeling. This also helps the reader interpret what the later part of the passage is. By setting the mood and emotion the reader will interpret what the text how the author intends it to be interpreted. Morrison shifts to a more specific text subject. Going from emotional events to how the character is feeling and why brings the reader back to the story and advances the plot further on.