Study Guide

Jazz Chapter 8

By Toni Morrison

Chapter 8

  • Joe finds Dorcas, dancing at an "adult" party where all the dancing and drinking and carousing goes on in public.
  • It's thrilling. It's a party full of jazz and beautiful people, and exactly what young Dorcas would have dreamed about.
  • And Dorcas is in love. She's dancing with a really handsome young man, and by their body language it's obvious that she is way more into him that he is into her. But they have chemistry nonetheless.
  • Dorcas is happy that her new man isn't old. She's also happy that other women want to be with him, and that she has him to herself. 
  • We shift into Dorcas's perspective now. She knows that Joe is going to come after her because of the expression he had when she told him that it was over. She tried to be nice about it, but Joe refused to be nice about the whole thing and Dorcas ended up telling him that he made her sick.
  • Her new BF is named Acton. She essentially dumped Joe for Acton, because Acton was hot but also because she wanted to have a relationship that was out in the open, and enviable.
  • She told her friend Felice about the whole Joe thing, and Felice was a little grossed-out by Dorcas hooking up with an old guy.
  • Back at the party, dancing with Acton, Dorcas knows again that Joe is coming for her, but she's all snuggled against Acton and pleased with life.
  • Why is Acton so great? Well, he bosses Dorcas around and tells her what to wear and she buys him presents. Jeez. This relationship sounds like the pits.
  • But Dorcas was so sick of Joe fawning over her with puppy-dog eyes that Acton, even though he sounds like a scumbag, is a refreshing change.
  • Dorcas thinks about how all's fair in love and war.
  • When Joe shows up (Dorcas seems to have a premonition that he's come), he'll see that Dorcas is with Acton now and, in Dorcas's mind, will leave her alone.
  • Yeah, that's not what happens.
  • In first-person DorcasVision, we see her get shot: She falls, is taken to a bed, sees blood on Acton's snazzy jacket; then she tells everyone that she's tired, which is a total sign that she's dying. 
  • Her friends—Felice especially—want Dorcas to tell them that it was Joe that shot her. 
  • Huh. She confuses the contents of Joe's Cleopatra beauty products case with her childhood dolls—you know, the dolls burnt in the fire that killed her mother.
  • She also says, "I know his name, but Mama won't tell." Holy Sigmund Freud, Batman.
  • She attempts to tell Felice his name but is confused and losing blood. The last thing she sees is a bowl of oranges, and the last thing she hears is a familiar jazz song.
  • Best. Death. Scene. Ever.

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