Study Guide

Jazz Women And Femininity

By Toni Morrison

Women And Femininity

Mommy issues alert: Everyone has beef with motherhood in Jazz. And we don't blame them—most of the mamas in this novel are nowhere to be found. This makes us want to call our mothers right now. It's not just Mommy that's missing in Jazz, it's the comfort and security of a mother-figure. Harlem in 1926 is exciting, yes, but hardly comforting.

But mamahood isn't the only femininity-themed arrow in Jazz's quiver. There's also preoccupation with what it means to be a lady, a good girl, or an attractive woman. From Joe selling Cleopatra beauty products to Dorcas slipping on silk stockings in secret, the question of what it means to be a good woman in Jazz is ever-present. Having babies is only part of the (super-difficult) equation.

Questions About Women And Femininity

  1. What are some of the guidelines to being a "good woman" in Jazz?
  2. How does the absence of a mother affect the lives of the characters in Jazz?
  3. Why does Violet decide not to have children, and why does she change her mind later?
  4. How does Joe's search for Wild mirror his search for Dorcas?

Chew on This

Joe's relationship to Dorcas mirrors his relationship to his mother, and Violet's relationship to Dorcas mirrors her relationship to motherhood.

The absence of fathers impact the lives of the characters in Jazz more than the absence of mothers.

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