Study Guide

Golden Gray in Jazz

By Toni Morrison

Golden Gray

Golden Gray is—surprise—a golden boy. He is also a mama's boy. He's washed three times a day as a baby (overkill much?) and spoiled rotten. He's given the best clothes, encouraged to let his hair grow out into a Fabio-esque mane, and, oh yeah—he's never told that his father is black.

Golden Gray exists thematically to point out the ludicrousness of racism. He's biracial and if he had darker skin, he would have been born a slave. As it is, though, instead he was given the three-baths-a-day treatment and had a slave of his own. Who is Violet's grandmother. Whoa.

So when Golden Gray is informed that his father is black, he has a bit of an identity crisis and goes to find his daddy. On the way he picks up Wild, who loses consciousness after smashing her noggin on a rock. Golden Gray is present for Joe's birth and is totally out of his depth. His dad tells him:

"I know what you came for. To see how black I was. You thought you was white, didn't you? She probably let you think it. Hoped you'd think it. And I swear I'd think it too." (7.17)

Golden Gray also exists thematically to show the connectivity that exists between Joe and Violet even before they were born. These crazy fifty-year-old kids were simply meant to be together.

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