Rootlessness In Toni Morrison's Jazz

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In Jazz by Toni Morrison, Morrison constantly revisits the theme of rootlessness. The idea of being disconnected from your origins arises in almost every aspect of the novel, from narration to setting to the characters themselves. The prevalence reveals the importance of the theme to the overall novel, but what Morrison intends to convey to the reader about the question of identity is unclear. The first example of rootlessness that appears in the book is when Violet lets all of her birds out of their cages, after attempting to re-kill Dorcas. The birds are suddenly released from what grounded them and now have no connections to the world. This is one of the concrete examples of rootlessness Morrison uses in the book. She follows the uncaging of the birds with a description of how, for a time, no one knows where Violet lives because “the snow she…show more content…
“The City” becomes almost another character, seeming to shape the actions and tweak the paths of the people that live in it. Moving to New York is painted as a decision to give up your roots, and look to the future. In the city, “History is over...and everything’s ahead at last” (Morrison 7). The past is forgotten, as everyone is thinking constantly about the future ahead of them. Having roots, which are what connect one to their heritage and to their past, is impossible when all the focus is on the next thing. Morrison suggests through this choice of setting that being rootless is inevitable, no matter who you are or where you come from. Once someone begins to love the City, to them is feels as if “there never was a time when they didn’t love it” (Morrison 33). Everyone’s past is erased by living in New York, everything before New York becomes part of the History everyone ignores. So maybe, as with Joe and Dorcas, trouble comes not from rootlessness itself, but attempting to make roots in a place so utterly opposed to
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