Study Guide

Felice in Jazz

By Toni Morrison

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Felice's name means happy, and this is important because Felice brings happiness to the otherwise pretty freaking dismal world of Jazz.

Her most important feat in the world of Jazz is to set Joe and Violet's marriage right. She comes up to talk to Joe about Dorcas and to see if she can get her favorite opal ring back, and she ends up supplying Violet with someone to nurture and giving Joe the chance to sort through his memories of Dorcas.

This is all very well and good, and totally solidifies Felice's standing as a guide figure in Jazz… But what about Felice's motivation? She doesn't just pop up at the Trace apartment with the keen idea that she's going to help a middle-aged marriage get back on track. Nope—she has reasons.

The first reason Felice stops by is that she wants her ring back. This is an opal ring that her mom stole for her from Tiffany's. And remember: Jazz is all about the mamas. So in a way Felice goes to the Trace house o' pain to reclaim her relationship to her mama. But it goes beyond that. Felice's mom grew up in a world that was even more racist than Felice's, and so Felice's mom stealing the ring was her big act of defiance. Felice thinks that this theft is kind of dumb until she thinks it over some more and realizes that it was, in fact, gutsy.

Felice also visits the Traces because she wants some closure to Dorcas's death. Felice and Dorcas had been besties since grade school, and Felice describes Dorcas as being "[…] never afraid and we had the best times. Every school we went to, every day." Even though Felice didn't approve of a lot of things that Dorcas did, they were still thick as thieves. So with Dorcas now gone, Felice needs some help closing that chapter of her life. And, if we do say so ourselves, it's lucky for the Traces that she does. Sure, Felice gets what she comes by for—but they are healed in spades.

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