The book moves back and forth on the lives of the characters living in Harlem. Most of the residents in Harlem are blacks pushed to the wall to a myriad of social and economic problems. The typical life of the residents can be portrayed through Joe and Violet who have been living in the are since their marriage for more than 20 years. The title depicts the motion that is experienced with Jazz music. Jazz music moves from slow and low to abrupt high and fast notes just like the lives of the Joe, Dorcas and Violet. Joe finds new page in life after meeting Dorcas who is 18 years old. During this relationship, he moves away from the slow and calm love he had shared with his wife for years to a much rejuvenating one. However, Dorcas finds a younger lover and her steps lead to her death. On discovering her actions, Joe shoots her leaving her dead. This incidence brings to light their relation that Joe’s wife was oblivious of. During Dorcas funeral, she angrily, stabs the corpse. The way in which the Joe and his wife behaved towards Dorcas displays an intense feeling of love and hatred.
Joe was deeply affected that his new found life with Dorcas was being interrupted with. Instead of finding an amicable solution, he decided to kill her. His actions are not related. Violet too, directs her anger of betrayal to the corpse. Although her action does not help in any way, she instead suffers social rejection and disapproval . Although a person may not portray remouserness to the public, a sense of guilt is usually emerges because of aomeill actions. Joe and violet keep observing Dorcas portrait to get rid of the emotional guilt they suffered because of their actiosn “"If the tiptoer is Joe Trace [...] then the face stares at him without hope or regret and it is the absence of accusation that wakes him from his sleep hungry for her company. [...] But if the tiptoer is Violet the photograph is not that at all. The girl's face looks greedy, haughty and very lazy" (12)” The portrayed seemed to counttheri charges against them over her death.. The intensity of hate,violenceand loneliness sorrounds the lives of the two. Living in a community that every man is for himself, joe and Violet realsie they are the only ones to mend thri lives. The intensity of their youthful life in love helps them rebuild their love together.