“Fists and the Voices of Sorrowful Women”

Race, Gender,Violence, and the Reconstruction of the Word in Toni Morrison’s Jazz.
  • Charlton Copeland


Toni Morrison’s novel Jazz is an often overlooked novel, situated as it is between the remarkable triumph of Beloved and the harrowing narrative of Paradise.1 Jazz is often depicted as a respite from the social questions raised in the other two novels. Twenty years after its publication, it is clear that Beloved has entered into the canon of literature addressed by the genre of law and literature, as it made a significant contribution to the enduring themes of slavery and its memory, personhood, violence and the state’s authority.2 Jazz, however, has been variously described as a novel about the black migration,3 the black experience in the urban North,4 and the soured romance between a husband and wife.5 While these descriptions are accurate, they obscure the extent to which Jazz serves as a critique of the violence perpetrated against black bodies—often with the law’s implicit and explicit sanction.6 More particularly, Jazz is a critique of the failure of law to protect black women’s bodies from violence against them from within the black community.


Domestic Violence Black Woman Black Community Black Body Batter Woman 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Lovalerie King and Richard Schur 2009

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  • Charlton Copeland

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