Study Guide

Jazz Lust

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There is a lot of sultry saxophone music in Jazz, both literally and metaphorically. Lust is one of the huge motivators for the characters in Jazz: It starts the action with a bang (that kills Dorcas) and is responsible for Alice's over-protectiveness, Violet's jealousy, Golden Gray's identity crisis, and basically everyone's sorrow. Poor form, lust—we trusted you.

None of this is surprising: Lust is one of the huge motivators (and culprits) in the real world, as well as in the world of literature. It's also one of the huge themes of jazz music, and the reason that people like Alice are so scandalized by jazz. Not everyone can handle the heat.

Questions About Lust

  1. How does lust motivate the characters in Jazz?
  2. What is Alice's opinion of lust, and how is she hypocritical in her opinion?
  3. Does lust ever manifest itself as a force for good in Jazz, or is it only corrupting?
  4. How does Jazz's portrayal of lust and love differ? How are they portrayed as the same?

Chew on This

Joe lusts after Dorcas, but he does not love her.

In Jazz, lust is portrayed as dangerous, but love is portrayed as virtuous.

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