Study Guide

Jazz Race

By Toni Morrison

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Let us count the ways in which the racial identity impacts the characters in Jazz. No, let's not, because if we started we'd be here well into next week.

From jazz music to the Great Migration, from slavery to hate crimes, from Golden Gray's quest for identity to the comparison between Dorcas and Violet's skin, Jazz is immersed in the history and questions of black identity. These characters look for a sense of black community as well as for personal identity, and reflect on disturbing elements of American history.

Besides Vera Louise—who is a super-auxiliary character—everyone in Jazz is black and questions of race come up on, no joke, every page.

Questions About Race

  1. What periods of black history does Jazz cover?
  2. Why is the character of Golden Gray important?
  3. How does racial prejudice impact the characters in Jazz?
  4. What symbols in Jazz reinforce the theme of race and migration?

Chew on This

The theme of race in Jazz is its most important and pervasive theme.

All of the characters in Jazz experience the effects of racism in different ways.

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