The Bondage and Subsequent Agency of Violet in Toni Morrison’s Jazz


  • Melanie Anne Marotta Morgan State University



In Jazz Toni Morrison’s character, Violet Trace, has difficulty adapting to her life in Harlem (the City) after she moves north from the south. The examination is as follows: the influence of the city on the female community and both entities onto Violet permit her to transform her identity, therefore having three specific stages. 


Violet experiences a transformation in her identity and her environment, particularly the City, aids in her changes. The first stage of Violet’s life occurs in the South, during her journey to Harlem, and subsequently to the death of Dorcas Manfred, her husband’s lover. Violet is influenced by Joe, True Belle, who is her grandmother, and the City during this period. Here, Violet’s identity gives way to Joe’s projection of masculinity, to the desires of True Belle, who repeatedly relives her past caring for Golden Gray, and to the accelerated pace of the City. In her second life, the next stage of identity transformation, Violet meets Alice Manfred, Dorcas’s aunt, who subsequently aids Violet in finding and releasing her pain and reforming her identity. Violet’s third life occurs under the influence of Felice, Dorcas’s friend. Once the duo meets, Violet is able to release Dorcas and to pass on her knowledge to Felice regarding stagnation. It is these women, Alice and Dorcas, who become Violet’s community and who aid Violet’s transformation of her identity. 

Author Biography

Melanie Anne Marotta, Morgan State University

Melanie A. Marotta received her PhD in English from Morgan State University. She is a Lecturer in the Department of English and Language Arts. Marotta is originally from the province of Ontario in Canada. Marotta’s research focuses on sf, the American West, contemporary American Literature, and Ecocriticism. She began her ecocritical research while writing her MA thesis at Northwest Missouri State University and has continued to examine the impact of space and place on identity formation in her publications and conference presentations.



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How to Cite

Marotta, M. A. (2017). The Bondage and Subsequent Agency of Violet in Toni Morrison’s Jazz. Pivot: A Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies and Thought, 6(1).



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