How Morrison Satires On Urban Life In “Jazz”? The true genius of satire lies in exposing the follies, foibles, shortcomings, absurdities, weaknesses, drawbacks, vices of lust, avarice, greed, envy, etc. of the people in a very light and humorous manner. A satirist does point out these vices in order to reform the people involved in these vices. That’s why a true satirist is also regarded as a great reformist. So, we see that the great function and purpose of a satirical work is to amend the behavior of others and to eliminate the prevailing vices among the people of a society. It is rightly acknowledged that a satire is a strong weapon in the hand of the writer.
As far as the matter of the satire of Toni Morrison is considered, she uses this device in almost all her novels paradise”, “The Bluest Eye ”, ”Sula “,Beloved” and “Jazz”.
There are many satirical elements in the novel “Jazz” and these can be categorically pointed out. She has presented a sexual and sensuous nature of Joe in the novel and through this sensuous nature of Joe, she satrizes the unfair sexual relations of old man with the young teenaged girls of her time. These illegal and unfair relations of men with the young girls were also used to spoil the mutual marital relations between husbands and wives of Morrison’s age.
As it happened in the conjugal life of Joe and Violet. Joe Trace is a quite old man but he has a love affair with a young girl. He is even not satisfied with his wife Violet and says to her that he loves a young girl who “lighten his (his) life a little with a good lady”. The result of these unfair and illegal love affairs was always in disasters of the lives of both. Same thing happened as a result of Joe Dorcas’ affair. Joe shot Dorcas dead when she told him that she had changed her mind and her new boyfriend was Acton. The foolish behavior of Violet is very badly satirized by Morrison.
Being an emotionally unstable, she wants to build a family which is as humorous as it is pathetic and doomed. Her foolish act is also shown in her act of kidnapping a baby named Philly but fails to execute it. She becomes jealous after knowing Joe’s love for a young girl named Dorcas and becomes great foe to both. After the death of Dorcas, she brings her picture from her aunt Alice Manfred and decorates the picture in a silver frame. This very foolish act not only troubles her but. also her husband Joe.
The affectation, pretension and hypocrisy of Malvonne are openly condemned and satirized by Morrison in the novel. She was in the habit of interfering in her neighbor’s life. Her apartment was used as a “Love Nest” for Joe Trace and Dorcas. Malvonne played a key role in developing and strengthening the unfair relations between Joe and Dorcas.
At one occasion in the novel, Malvonne says to Joe about Violet “No point in picking the apple it you don’t want to see how it tastes, how does it taste Joe”. She produced the germs of dislikeness of Violet in Joe. Through the satirical portrait of Malvonne, Morrison satirizes the undue and needless interference of one neighbor in the lives of other neighbours. This needless interference often destroyed the peaceful and loveful conjugal lives of many married couples in Morrison’s time.
Moreover, her act of showing false affection and sympathy with Violet is also satirized by Morrison. It is an irony of the fact that on one hand, she turns Joe against Violet by saying degrading remarks against Violet but on the other hand she shows false affection and sympathy with Violet by saying that she is the most innocent woman of the world that deserves her sympathy after the death of Dorcas. In this way, Morrison satirizes the false affection and fake sympathies of the ladies of her time.
Another satirical element is observed in the portrayal of Alice Manfred, the aunt of Dorcas. She was in the habit of showing a very queer behavior in her daily routine matters. On one hand, she wants to prove her to be very disciplined, strict and punctual in her rules and regulations but one the other hand, we see that she instructs her sixteen years old niece to be “Deaf and Blind” and always tries to frighten her by the fear of doom on the day of judgement and by the fear of “The Beast”.
In this satirical portrait, we see the hypocrisy, insensibility and fake nature of the ladies of Morrison’s age. In addition to all these satirical portraits, Morrison continues satirizing on the whole community of the white. The whitenen think themselves to be superior to all humanity. Morrison points out and exposes the inner cruelties, vanity, hypocrisy and false pride lying under the surface of their white skin. She has presented many scenes of their cruelty and atrocities in the novel. The white men of her time were exploiting the basic rights of other communities. The Dorcas house was burnt by the whitemen whereas her mother was alive in the house. Violet’s house was sold on heavy interest and her mother committed suicide on the basis of this degradation.
Toni Morrison also highlights the problem of “identification” in the novel. This problem originated as a result of unfair relations of the white and black. In Morrison’s time, whitemen used to have unfair love affairs with their slave black women. They begot children as a result of their intercourses. This very practice created a problem of identity among the born children who often remained in finding their true parental identification.
Most of the time of their life, they remained in solving the dilemma whether they were the children of the white or the black or in which race they were connected. The characters of Golden Grey and Joe are the best examples in this regard because they are absolutely unidentified from their birth. When both are grown up and become sensible, they start searching their birth sources. In this way, the story of Jazz circles round their struggle to reach their creators.
To conclude this above mentioned topic of pointing out the satirical elements in the novel, we can say in the final analysis that there are many satirical interpretations which present the true moral collapse of the society of Morrison’s time. Morrison satirizes and condemns the unfair social relationship of men severely and forcefully. White’s superiority of color and race is satirized time and again. The i black race is badly exploited and devalued for the sack of its black skin by the white race. The white men never thought that the color of their blood was the same. They were also not of the view of giving equal and due respect to everybody without considering the color or race.
It is below the code of ethics that man’s color is given more importance than man himself, Morrison negates all such kind baseless and worthless codes of life. She is of the view that inner beauty should be given more value and regard than outer beauty. Like Conrad and P. Scott, Morrison presents in her novel how superior people exploit the inferior people. In brief, there is no doubt in saying the fact that among all other novelists, Morrison has her own unique, singular and distinguished place in depicting the viewpoints of racism and color. Throughout in her life, she herself remained a great supporter of the movement launched for the rights of the black people.