Naturalism in Jean Toomer’s Cane

Naturalism describes a type of literature that attempts to apply scientific principle of objectivity and detachment with regard to the study of human beings (Campbell). Charles Darwin, renowned biologist postulates his natural selection theory in his work, “The Origin of the Species”. In the animal kingdom, the strongest survive. The reasons for survival of the … Read moreNaturalism in Jean Toomer’s Cane

Heavy Loads: Cane and the Burden of Discrimination

Jean Toomer, in his novel Cane, compiles issues that plague the black community of the United States through the lens of characters who struggle with conflicts that arise because of racism in both the North and the South. These issues include grappling with masculinity, femininity, and gender roles, being biracial and not fitting into one … Read moreHeavy Loads: Cane and the Burden of Discrimination

Racial and Sexual Identity in Cane

Throughout the text Cane by Jean Toomer, the author creates a paradoxical depiction of women because, although he at times criticizes the metonymization of women, he also participates in it. For example, the first half of the book relies almost entirely on the mythologization of various female figures in Southern society. However, the second half … Read moreRacial and Sexual Identity in Cane

Eden and Egyptland: The Biblical South in Toomer’s Cane and Ellison’s Invisible Man

Both Jean Toomer and Ralph Ellison allude heavily to Old Testament imagery as they illustrate the Southern American landscape in their respective novels, Cane and Invisible Man. Toomer compares, through spirituals and spiritual-derived language, slavery’s legacy in the South to the plight of the Hebrew slaves of Egypt. In this sense, he describes Christianity in … Read moreEden and Egyptland: The Biblical South in Toomer’s Cane and Ellison’s Invisible Man

Thematic Structures in Cane and Winesburg, Ohio

“Life is swift, and the value of life is the value of every moment.” -Waldo Frank Out of all the readings for this class, this sentiment is expressed strongest in the works of Jean Toomer and Sherwood Anderson. Cane and Winesburg, Ohio are books of moments, and Toomer and Anderson use universal themes to weave … Read moreThematic Structures in Cane and Winesburg, Ohio

Expectations Compromise Reality

Esther endured five long years of loneliness. Her determination to prove herself and fulfill her desire left her more alone and disappointed than her initial hunger for companionship. In “Esther” by Jean Toomer, Esther’s morality and desires are shown to be degraded through several aspects. The townspeople cause the audience to realize Esther is more … Read moreExpectations Compromise Reality

The Portrayal of African Americans

Many southern writers are known for obscuring the boundaries between human and nonhuman–especially in regard to African Americans. When executed properly, authors are capable of conveying to the reader how African Americans were not typically seen as equally human as whites in both the North and the South. This particular technique is especially prevalent in … Read moreThe Portrayal of African Americans

The Absence of Female Voices and Perspectives in Jean Toomer’s ‘Cane’

In his biographical introduction to Cane, Darwin Turner quotes William Stanley Braithwaite as saying, “In Jean Toomer, the author of Cane, we come upon the very first artist of the race, who with all an artist’s passion and sympathy for life, its hurts, its sympathies, its desires, its joys, its defeats and strange yearnings, can … Read moreThe Absence of Female Voices and Perspectives in Jean Toomer’s ‘Cane’