“Golden” as copied, pasted, and defined from

Please note that all of the blue words can be clicked on and take you to a more detailed and specific definition of that particular word.


golden ‎(comparative more golden or goldener, superlative most golden or goldenest)

  1. Made of, or relating to, gold.
    She wore a golden crown.
  2. Having a colour or other richness suggestive of gold.
    Under a golden sun.
  3. Marked by prosperity, creativity etc.
    The Renaissance was a golden era.
    the Golden Horseshoe
  4. Advantageous or very favourable.  [quotations ▼]
    This is a golden opportunity
  5. Relating to a fiftieth anniversary.
    It’s not long until our golden wedding.
  6. Relating to the elderly or retired.
    After retiring, Bob and Judy moved to Arizona to live out their golden years.
  7. (Britain, slang) Fine, without problem

I think the definition that stands out to me most is “Advantageous or very favorable.”  Golden Gray is treated like a prince by True Belle and Vera Louise.  They shower him in love love love, so much love.  He grows up being the light of these two woman’s lives, which I think makes the name “Golden” appropriate.  He is their treasure.

I also think the 7th definition–“fine, without problem”–is quite interesting.  Golden wants to know more about his father, so he goes on this journey to find out where he comes from.  Clearly this quest for identity is problematic for Golden, yet Vera Louise doesn’t want him to know his father. Please correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe Golden has white skin, whereas his father has black skin (his mother was white).  This is an interesting dichotomy going on where Golden could have two different identities; one where he is raised as a privileged, white boy, another that he has not yet discovered but he thinks he can gain from knowing his father

I’m now thinking of the contradiction occurring between the two colors: Gold / Gray.  I use a slash here to “delete” the “en” sound at the end of Golden, which sounds like “and”.  If you say Golden Gray’s name it sounds like “Gold and Gray.” This emphasizes the two different identities of Golden’s character; they are both a part of him.  Gold most likely refers to his white side.  He was treasured because of his smooth, light skin, because of his golden curls.  These were things that drew others to him, this apparent whiteness, this golden purity, which brings me back to the definitions of gold.  Note that number 3 says, “colour or richness suggestive of gold”.  Suggestive of gold.  It is a suggestion that Golden is this wonderful-brilliant-happy boy. But is it true?

His view of his father is completely “gray”–he knows nothing about his father other than what True Belle told him about how to find him.

Gray as copied, pasted, and defined from


gray ‎(comparative grayer, superlative grayest) (spelled “grey” in the UK and the Commonwealth)

  1. (US) Having a color somewhere between white and black, as the ash of an ember.  [quotations ▼]
  2. (US) Dreary, gloomy.  [quotations ▼]
  3. (US) Having an indistinct, disputed or uncertain quality.
  4. (US) Relating to older people.


gray ‎(third-person singular simple present grays, present participle graying, simple past and past participle grayed) (spelled “grey” in the UK and the Commonwealth)

  1. (US) To become gray.
    My hair is beginning to gray.
  2. (US) To cause to become gray.
  3. (US, demography, slang) To turn progressively older, in the context of the population of a geographic region.
    the graying of America


gray ‎(plural grays) (spelled “grey” in the UK and the Commonwealth)

  1. (US) An achromatic colour intermediate between black and white.
  2. (chiefly US, ufology) an extraterrestrial humanoid with grayish skin, bulbous black eyes, and an enlarged head.
  3. (US, two-up) A penny with a tail on both sides, used for cheating.[1]

What is repeated in these different definitions of the words is “intermediate between black and white.” This defines Golden’s race.  Under noun “Extraterrestrial humanoid” stands out; if you click on extraterrestrial it is defined as “originating from outside the earth.”  Because Golden is half black and half white, he does not fit into a specific category of race.  We, as humans, like to categorize or stereotype people.  When we can’t do that we become afraid, so we define this human in “limbo” as apart from humans entirely.

One of the verb definitions states: “To turn progressively older, in the context of the population of a geographic region.”  This could relate to the aging of the society in which Golden lives–maybe emphasizing how there will be in increase in people of mixed race, how, if he starts a family, his children will also be of mixed race.

If you take a look at the final definition of the noun section, you will see it says “A penny with a tail on both sides, used for cheating.”  Golden has one foot in white privilege, and the other in black uncertainty.  I wonder if he will be “used for cheating,” somehow, or if his mixed race can be used to his advantage–besides the spoiled way in which he was brought up.

Coming back to the conversation about purity, things that are gray are typically dirty.  Therefore, Golden is both pure, “made of gold,” yet also dirty.  He is a living, breathing contradiction–at least in Morrison’s novel Jazz.

What do you make of these definitions?  Have I talked too much and lost all sense?  I hope this is understandable.



2 Replies to “GOLD / GRAY”

  1. Ari,
    This was a really interesting post to read! It got me thinking about that phrase we’ve been thinking on in class: the “both/and.” We see that Golden Gray is both gold and gray. I wonder, though, if Golden Gray’s being an “intermediate” character, being “in limbo” as you say, would also mean he is neither/nor. While he can fit into both of these categories that you discuss, does that fact also expel him from both of them? I’m interested to hear your thoughts on this and also see more of Golden Gray in the novel.

    1. Rachel,
      I am glad you brought up the word “expel.” I did not think of it as working here until you said it. I guess you could say that Golden Gray’s name (and heritage) expels him from a particular race, but not from society. I think he should be considered “both/and” rather than “neither/nor” because he is so intertwined in two different worlds.

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