Monday, April 11, 2022

How critics have talked about the anonymous, ungendered narrator of Toni Morrison's "Jazz"

The anonymous first-person narrator of Toni Morrison's "Jazz" (1992) does not participate in the narrated events and does not reveal any personal characteristics, including gender. As a result, critics of the novel have often discussed whether the narrator is male or female or perhaps not a person at all. Some leave it undecided but choose a pronoun, as Dirk Ludigkeit did in a 2001 article: "I will use the male pronoun when referring to the narrator for clarity's sake alone." By now, in 2022, though, the solution to the problem of the ungendered narrator is obvious: to avoid gendering them, the narrator can be referred to with the non-binary singular "they". (Andrew Shields, #111words, 11 April 2022)

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