- -African American characters' involuntary vulnerability and its improvised variations, synchronizing distinct levels of structure and textuality with jazz-like flexibility and fluidity.
- -The reader may easily find the characters' disordered aspects--carnal desire, jealousy, lack of morality, injury, murder, and the like; yet, with a bit more care, their affirmative aspects also become clear.
- "the mystery of love" that involves jealousy and forgiveness
- -conduct of the characters in Jazz is involuntary and, perhaps, inevitable.
- -such as the seducing City and its music, the unreliable narrator, as well as social, political,and economic conditions.
- -Morrison, therefore, does not assert that these involuntarily victimized, pathetic characters are to blame for their extraordinary behaviors; rather, she gives them a chance to redeem themselves, exhorting them to forgive and love each other and to be careful in order not to be trapped by the manipulating circumstances.
- -display aberrant behaviors such as murder, injury, and misunderstanding, they are also neighborly and kind
Joe, Dorceas, Violet
Above all, Joe is a dreamer desirous to take a bite of the forbidden apple--that is, Dorcas. Although "he knew wrong wasn't right," his vain impulse to taste the apple keeps growing intense (74). And he appears to have fulfilled this desire in the sense that he could date the young Dorcas, but the affair ends up with his shooting Dorcas because of the unsatisfied desire to possess her as his own. Even after her death, Joe's aspiration for Dorcas is still operating: dreaming of Dorcas, he quits his job and pays little attention to his wife. He has lost all sense of reality. His wife Violet is almost a lunatic when she tries to take revenge by attacking Dorcas in the coffin. She is also one who seems to hardly realize what goes on. Rather than blaming Dorcas, she continually looks at her photograph on the fireplace and is jealous of her youth and amiability, wishing to be "white, light, young again" (208).
It is simply a secret and thrilling game, or a fight to win someone. In her relationship with Acton, her new lover after leaving Joe, she is very impudent and insincere about love:
- -Morrison's novel would not simply draw on a pack of stereotypical stock characters, but rather depicts a complex working of the characters' psychological and behavioral patterns
- -Good People who do bad things
- -"The combination of virtue and flaw, of good intentions gone awry, of wickedness cleansed and people made whole again," interests Morrison
"A nice neighborly, everybody-knows-him man. The kind you let in your house because he was not dangerous, because you ... never heard a scrap of gossip about him doing wrong" (73).
Violet also "had been a snappy, determined girl and a hardworking young woman, with the snatch-gossip tongue of a beautician" (23).
The narrative makes it evident that the characters are induced to do wrong by seducing, misleading, and oppressive external forces to which they are involuntarily vulnerable.
The City people are directly exposed to the overwhelming temptation of crime and the carnal "appetite" of its seductive music.
(96). Clearly, the City in the text has a bewitching and controlling power on its inhabitants. Its manipulative dominance over the characters is so strong that the narrator emphatically says in relation to Joe's attitude of being "free to do something wild": "Take my word for it, he is bound to the track. It pulls him like a needle through the groove of a Bluebird record. Round and round about the town. That's the way the City spins you. Makes you do what it wants, go where the laid-out roads say to.... You can't get off the track a City lays for you" (120). Its music operates as a similar seducing mechanism. Dorcas, for example, has lived in "a City seeping music that begged and challenged each and every day, `Come,' it said. `Come and do wrong'" (67).