Essay about Toni Morrison’s Jazz: Joe Trace and The Oedipus Complex

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In his psychoanalytic excerpt, “The Oedipus Complex”, Sigmund Freud ruminates on how children develop bonds with their parents. According to Freud, children develop intimate bonds with parents by adopting the roles and values of the parent whose sex they share. Conversely, the parent of the opposite sex becomes a cherished object of affection. The Oedipus Complex implies that a boy adopts his father’s identity (and roles) in the hope of gaining the affection of his mother. Inevitably, the boy’s attempts to become his father and live out the role of husband/wife between himself and his mother is bound to fail. According to Freud, these futile and misunderstood efforts cause a child to be “in love with the one parent and hat[e] the …show more content…
Of all of Jazz’s unique characters, Dorcas has the most in common with Trace’s mother. Trace’s mother, Wild, is exactly what her name indicates: a wild untamable, incomprehensive, nonconforming woman. Dorcas is, as described by Alice Manfred, a “mishandled child” who “knew better than you or me or anybody just how small and quick this little bitty life is” (Jazz, 113). Throughout Dorcas is depicted as having the wild and untamed disposition of a typically misguided and untethered teenager. When Trace meets her, her defiance to conformity signifies, within the depths of his psyche, some trace vestige of his lost mother. Accordingly, Trace does everything in his power to make himself completely accessible to Dorcas’s affection.
Another validation of Joe’s Oedipal tendencies is quite explicit in a self-reflective thought made about his wife and marriage: “Like me saying, ‘All right, Violet, I’ll marry you,’ just because I couldn’t see whether a wild woman put her hand out or not’” (181). At first glance, a reader might think Trace retrospectively is acknowledging his former ignorance of Violet’s wild insanity. But, scrutinizing this statement reveals his hidden need for a wild woman. Here, Trace is exposing his need for Wild, his mother. When Trace realizes that his wife, Violet, is not Wild, Trace is compelled to search for his mother once again. Therefore, this text equates Trace’s infidelity to a

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