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On Black Feminism in Toni Morrison’s Jazz

Author WuYanYan
Tutor MaLiLi
School Hebei Normal
Course English Language and Literature
Keywords Black feminism Oppressed female characters Self-consciousness
Type Master's thesis
Year 2011
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Black feminism is a branch of feminism which arises with the emergence of Black Women’s Movement in the 1970s in the United States. It mainly studies the multiple oppressions of sexism, racism and class prejudices imposed on black women in the American society, reveals the sufferings of black women caused by the multiple oppressions and provides methods to help black women. Black feminist critics analyze the works of black female writers from a feminist or political perspective. Thus, it is regarded as a practice, a way of reading inscriptions of race, gender, and class in modes of cultural expression.Published in 1992, Jazz is Toni Morrison’s latest long novel. As a black American woman writer, Toni Morrison has always been concerned with black American women’s particular experiences and emotions in her works. Her novels have always been heavily focusing on such problems as black women’s self-consciousness, their search for independence and self-identity under the multiple oppressions of racism, sexism and class prejudices, and the influence of the multiple oppressions upon sisterhood as well as mother-daughter relationship between black women. Her major concerns in writing overlap with those of black feminism. In her novels, she tries to awaken self-consciousness of black women. Jazz, which is acclaimed as the peak of Morrison’s writing by some critics in the United States, is no exception. However, it has not sufficiently been discussed academically in China. Up to now, few approaches have been done to carry out a systematical study from the perspective of black feminism. Therefore, this thesis intends to make such an attempt.The thesis consists of six parts. The introduction presents Toni Morrison’s literary achievement,a brief summary of the story of Jazz and its writing and theoretical background , including an introduction of black literature, black feminism and an overview of Morrison’s life, which supplies a theoretical base for the analysis of the characterization in the novel and how they influence her writing and writing objectives. Chapter one is about black women under“internalized oppression”. The second chapter is devoted to discuss the victimized female characters, which deals with the theme, setting,distorted love and main female roles in Jazz. Thus the third chapter shows an in-depth analysis of African American under racial discrimination and the fourth chapter is on black women’s questing for self. The living situation of African American and the complicated emotion of the leading lady Violet as well as the limitations of the black women are omnipresent in the text. Additionally, a new conception of the discursive violence Toni Morrison created is referred to help readers to understand the fate of the heroine in Jazz and the importance of the feminism thoroughly. Next is an observation about the influence and far-fetching meaning of black feminism on Jazz. Finally the conclusion is drawn from what I argue in the preceding chapters. I contend that combining the Black Feminism with one of Toni Morrison’s works—Jazz, we can get a deeper understanding about the great female writer and her works.

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