Jazz is the story of a husband and wife living in Harlem, New York in the 1920s. Joe and Violet Trace’s marriage has experienced the usual ups and downs, but in the winter of 1926, their lives are nearly destroyed by Joe’s infidelity with 18-year-old Dorcas whom he shoots to death. Because there are no witnesses, Joe is not arrested or made to pay for his crime in the traditional sense. Instead, he punishes himself.
His wife Violet is humiliated and outraged by Joe’s betrayal of their love. Her reaction is to blame the dead girl and to strike out against her. Violet attends Dorcas’ funeral to see what makes this girl so beautiful and why her husband loves her so fiercely.
At the funeral, Violet tries to attack the corpse with a knife. Violet is physically thrown from the funeral service. Now both Joe and Violet are the subjects of ridicule in their community.
However, neither of them is concerned. Joe is too busy crying. Violet spends her days trying to find out more about her husband’s dead lover. Violet still considers Dorcas her rival for Joe’s affections.
Violet becomes more and more mentally unglued. She is willing to do anything to hold on to her husband and to keep herself from going crazy. Violet becomes friends with the dead girl’s aunt Alice Manfred and with Dorcas’ best friend Felice.
As the story unfolds, we find out what causes the anguish suffered by Joe and Violet. Joe...
(The entire section is 524 words.)