Study Guide

Jazz Chapter 9

By Toni Morrison

Chapter 9

  • Well, things might not be going too smoothly over at the old Violet-Joe house, but at least the weather is nice?
  • The city is coming to life, and music is pouring off of every rooftop, which sounds awesome.
  • Also, everyone is thinking about sex. Springtime: When young men, old men, old women, and young women's fancy turns toward love.
  • But at least Violet returned Dorcas's photograph to Alice. Thank goodness. It was about time.
  • Violet is feeling better, and all of a sudden she sees a girl that looks like Dorcas's doppelganger. Whoa—she's even carrying a record.
  • She's also carrying some stew meat.
  • Recap: Food = sex in jazz music, food = sex in Jazz. Even kind of warm stew meat.
  • This girl is heading up the steps toward Violet.
  • Another perspective shift: Time to dive into the first-person point of view of Felice.
  • So Felice lives with her grandmother because her parents work out of town and only come to visit every three weeks. That's not a lot, but even when they see her they're not exactly warm and loving—they say they miss her, and then her dad reads the paper and her mom goes dancing.
  • When she tries to connect with her dad about current events, her dad kind of snaps at her and tells her that racism is more prevalent than she thinks. Good point, Dad, but shouldn't you be nicer to the daughter you only see every three weeks?
  • Her mother takes her shopping at Tiffany's. Fancy.
  • Felice kind of meanders here and starts talking about Dorcas. They were friends even though they had different shades of skin: Felice was way darker than Dorcas. They were besties, actually.
  • Felice didn't like Dorcas hanging out with Joe because he was gross and old, and also because Dorcas spent so much time with him. Dorcas started getting devious when she started dating Joe, slipping on scandalous underwear when she was safely out of Alice's house.
  • Felice does think that Joe was good looking, though. She also thinks that Dorcas was not a beauty. She's a little harsh about it.
  • Dorcas also liked to do wild and crazy things like slap sales clerks (!) and cuss people out.
  • Felice's opinion was that Dorcas was with Joe for the rush of having an illicit affair with a married man.
  • Anyway, back in the present, she says that she only went to Violet and Joe's house because she wanted her opal ring back.
  • Back in the day, when her mom took her to Tiffany's, she stole the opal ring—Felice knows that her mother stole the ring, even though she told her it was a gift from her boss.
  • Felice lent Dorcas the opal ring because it matched her bracelets, and because she wanted to impress Acton.
  • Felice didn't approve of Acton, either. She saw how Dorcas bent over backward to give Acton presents and how he just treated her badly in response. Sigh. Love is blind.
  • Jeez, Acton didn't even wear the presents Dorcas gave him. What a booger.
  • Anyway, Felice's mom is asking about what happened to the opal ring. Neither parent works away from home these days, and they seem happier.
  • But that's not the only reason that Felice came to visit Violet and Joe. She knows that Joe has been devastated since Dorcas's death and wants to tell him (1) that she thought Dorcas was kind of manipulative, and (2) something that Dorcas told her. How secretive.
  • Violet tells Felice that Dorcas was "Ugly, outside and in," and Felice agrees.
  • Felice thinks that Violet and Joe seem pretty cool, actually, and she stays for dinner that first evening. She makes Joe smile, and she talks to Violet about the sensation of having multiple personalities.
  • Violet and Felice seriously hit it off and really open up to each other.
  • Felice gets angry, though, when Violet says that Felice reminds Joe of Dorcas. Like, really mad. She yells. And then she says that Dorcas let herself die, because she wanted to go to sleep. This seems unreasonable. But, like we said, Felice is peeved.
  • Dorcas didn't want an ambulance called, and she didn't want to be carried downstairs and driven to the hospital; she died from blood loss.
  • Felice starts crying, and Violet asks her if this is the first time she's cried about Dorcas's death. It is.
  • Violet and Joe invite Felice over for dinner that Friday—Friday is catfish night.
  • When she goes back for the catfish dinner, Felice finds out that the opal ring was buried with Dorcas.
  • While Violet is busy with a customer, Felice talks to Joe. Felice means happy, and Joe asks her if she is happy. She answers: "Yes. No." Good answer, Felice.
  • Joe tells her that he saw a tender, kind side of Dorcas; he also tells Felice that he killed Dorcas because he was scared of loving her. In our humble opinion, that's not a great reason.
  • Felice tells Joe that before Dorcas died she told Felice something: "There's only one apple. Tell Joe."
  • Remember how Joe compared Dorcas to the apple of the knowledge of good and evil? Yup.
  • Violet's customer leaves, and Violet and Joe dance to the music that's playing outside. It's really sweet, and then Felice joins in and they all dance together.
  • Felice decides to tell her mother the truth about what happened to the ring. She's also glad that Dorcas has the ring, even in the grave.
  • Felice is feeling totally big-hearted and charitable. She thinks about Dorcas's foolishness—especially about how she said she'd "won" Acton—but she's loving about it. The weather is good and it looks like summer will arrive soon. Violet's catfish was good. Felice thinks about how much she loves her mother. Felice is being totally sweet.

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