In Jazz, Morrison explores the transferential relation between book and reader, invoking Kleinian object relations, Gates's Talking Book, and her characters' search for lost mothers to drive the reader into his or her own psychoanalytic search for origins. Joe, Violet, and Dorcas have been scarred by maternal abandonment, suicide, or early death. Joe and Violet share an object relation with Golden Gray, the white-raised son of Hunter's Hunter who is present at Joe's birth. Golden is also the boy who haunts Violet's childhood, as True Belle tells Violet stories about him when she raises Violet after the death of Violet's mother. At the same time, Joe and Violet have never met Golden Gray and cannot locate this particular object relation: it exists within the novel's subconscious, recognizable only to narrator and reader. Jazz itself becomes the reader's transitional object, Gates's Signifyin(g) Monkey; and the narrator's own “unreliability” reflects on the black-authored text's “distrust” of the (white) American reader, a Kleinian “paranoid defence” against allowing the possibility of love to overcome hatred. As the talking book that is Jazz finds its Derridean “trace” in Wild, the narrator accomplishes what Joe Trace could not. Locating her own origins in Wild's “chamber of gold,” the narrator discovers the ways in which reading itself can become a site within which to work through “paranoid” feelings and to arrive at reparation.
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Marjorie Pryse; Signifyin(g) on Reparation in Toni Morrison's Jazz. American Literature 1 September 2008; 80 (3): 583–609. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00029831-2008-023
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