‘A Jazzman’s Blues’ Ending, Explained: What Are the Letters from the Old Woman About?

Welcome to the Ending Explained for A Jazzman’s Blues, the latest movie directed by Tyler Perry, arriving on Netflix this weekend. The film is the 23rd film with Perry in the director’s chair, and it is the director’s intent to get out of his comfort zone and do something different and unexpected for him. The film still has many of the qualities that you will find in a Tyler Perry movie, there is melodrama, a big ensemble of characters, social commentary, and lots of tragedy.

The film tells the story of Bayou, a young man living in the deep south of the United States of America. A place where racism is normal and where the color of your skin defines what you will do for the rest of your life. Bayou, our main character, is a jazz man, and he falls in love with a girl with light skin called Leanne. The two will share a forbidden romance, where the conventions of the era will try to separate them. Can love flourish when every part of society is against it?

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The following paragraphs contain spoilers for A Jazzman’s Blues. Read at your own risk.

Does Bayou Become A Successful Singer?

A Jazzman’s Blues focuses its main plot around two characters. Bayou and Leanne. Bayou is a good son and works as a musician at his mother’s juke bar. This is where most of the musical sequences take place. Bayou is a man full of illusion and ambition. Bayou wants to get out of the south and become a famous singer to help his family and improve their lives. However, things take a turn when Bayou falls in love with a girl named Leanne. Leanne is special, not only because Bayou finds her amusing, funny, and beautiful, but also because she has light skin.

Leanne’s skin is so light, she appears to be white. This becomes a scandal because Bayou’s skin is really dark. None of the families wants these two to be together, so their relationship becomes forbidden. Bayou is also dealing with a lot of hate in his own home. Earl’s older brother hates him for some reason, and the same happens with his father, a self-hating man. It seems like his father hates Bayou because he is so dark, and he wanted to have a son with lighter skin. The social commentary writes itself, it isn’t subtle at all.

Things get even worse when Bayou is sent to the army. He serves his time in the army and returns to America, but he stays in Chicago. Bayou adapts quite easily to living in the city, and he manages to create a wonderful space where he can perform his music. Bayou becomes a big-shot singer in the city, to the displeasure of his brother, Earl, who is quite envious of Bayou’s success. He has the option to stay and keep being successful there, or go back to see his family and Leanne. Bayou decides to return. This decision will prove to be fatal.

What Are The Letters From The Old Woman About?

The movie also uses a framing device when in 1987 we see an old woman delivering letters to a politician. The movie then goes into some kind of Princess Bride frame device, and everything we see in the rest of the movie is the man reading these letters. The old woman is revealed to be Hattie Mae, Bayou’s mother, in the future. Now old, and knowing the truth must be told, She wants her grandson to know it, and she gives him the letters. Throughout the story that is being told to us, we also learn about what happened to Leanne throughout the years.

Leanne was the object of the affection of a white man named John, who is the brother of a very hateful and racist sheriff. However, because Leanne’s skin was so light, and she could pass as a white person, he wants her to be his. Leanne’s family pushes for the union because it would mean better standing for all of them. Of course, we know that Leanne loves Bayou. They even have sex, and while Bayou is in Chicago, Leanne ends up giving birth to a boy. The boy’s skin is very light as well. But the movie is always vague about whom the real father is, Bayou or John.

When Bayou returns home to see Leanne, he is sold out by his hateful brother, now a drug addict. Earl tells the cops everything about Bayou’s location, and the racist mob doesn’t wait to release his anger. They search for Bayou until they finally find him. Bayou could have run away and hid, but he chooses to not live in fear anymore and faces the mob. This is the worst decision of his life, as the mob seizes him and lynches him by hanging him from a tree. Leanne sees everything, and she ends up feeling sick about the entire thing.

As the movie ends, it is revealed that Leanne’s son, the politician, is actually Bayou’s son. When Jonathan gives the letters to her, it becomes clear to him that everything he has read is true. He looks white, but his parents are black. The man sits down, reflecting on the realization that he himself is a black man. Leanne’s son has clearly been absorbed into thinking he is a white man, and he follows white man ideals. What will the son do with this new information about his origins? We can only imagine.

  • Nelson loves all things related to storytelling. He has spent most of his life studying narrative, applied across all mediums; film, TV, books, and video games. Mulholland Drive is his favorite film.