Tony Morrison teaches us Humanities

On Monday Dr. McCoy put us into groups and asked us to discuss any remaining questions we had about¬†Jazz, after we had finished reading the last chapter in class and finishing the novel. We began talking about who/ what the narrator was in the story, we came to the conclusion that the narrator was actually the book talking to us. At one point in the beginning of the novel when the narrator is introducing itself to us it says something along the lines of being used to not being used until after dinner, and when it is used the person often falls asleep before they can finish using it (I can’t remember the exact page we found this evidence on). Also when we finished reading the final chapter aloud it finishes with the words ” But I can’t ¬†say that aloud; I can’t tell anyone that I have been waiting for this all my life and that being chosen to wait is the reason I can. If I were able I’d say it. Say make me, remake me. You are free to do it and I am free to let you because look, look. Look where your hands are. Now.” (pg. 229). As a group we believed that this was the book telling us that we are the ones with the power to change who we are the book will forever ever the same words it can never be changed, but the book can change us as people. Alpha had the thought that Toni Morrison writes black humanities. She puts stories that can help to show us the defaults in humans, and what we can do to change it. She is the modern day Sophocles, Dante.

Because Morrison wrote her Trilogy based on Dante’s divine comedy, I decided to do some research on how Dante’s Divine Comedy has been related to humanities. I found an article in the Wall Street Journal titled ” The Ultimate Self-Help Book: Dante’s “Divine Comedy”, written by Rod Dreher. The author said that calling “The Divine Comedy” a self- help book “is almost the point of blasphemy”, but he goes onto say that Dante believed this himself which was shown in a letter he wrote to Can Grande Della Scala, in the letter he said “to remove those living in this life from a state of misery and lead them to a state of bliss.” How Dante does this according to the author is he makes us reflect upon our own life’s when reading it, which I believe can also be said about Toni Morrison’s Trilogy.

The article:

http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052702303663604579503700159096702

One comment

  1. Hi Alanna,
    I’m so glad you wrote about your group discussion on Monday! I think it’s interesting to think about the book itself as narrating a story. I have read a lot of books, I mean A LOT, and I cannot recall one where the book was narrating the story.
    This actually reminds me a little bit of the book “The Book Thief” where death narrates the novel. I’m wondering if I could argue the life is narrating “Jazz.” The last page of the book had the line “Say make me, remake me.” I think this acts advice for someone who wants to change something about their lives, and this is exactly what Violet and Joe did. They remade their lives because they couldn’t live in the same empty sadness anymore. I think the book is telling us to do the same–to remake our lives if we want to enjoy living.
    Ari

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