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Jazz by Toni Morrison: Something with Raisins is Exquisite Narration

“And the City, in its own way, gets down for you, cooperates, smoothing its sidewalks, correcting its curbstones, offering you melons and green apples on the corner. Racks of yellow head scarves; strings of Egyptian beads. Kansas fried chicken and something with raisins call attention to an open window where the aroma seems to lurk.” Toni Morrison, Jazz

“Something with raisins” is pure gold for me. Toni Morrison as a writer understands a character, in this case I believe the narrator, so intimately that they would not name everything encountered.

Was it because the narrator avoided food with raisins?

Or was it because they could not name that food?

Raisins were identifiable, but the food is not?

Whichever way this simple decision to write that phrase “something with raisins” reminds me as a writer that a character processes what they encounter. That a character is not just relaying a story but is experiencing life at all the varying levels of understanding that makes us distinctly human. I love the way Toni Morrison lets us be in the story Jazz through the viewpoint of a narrator who is exquisitely human, not just a plot device.

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