Race and Society in Jean Toomer's Cane

analytical Essay
1900 words
1900 words

The Harlem Renaissance was an intellectual and literary period of growth promoting a new African American cultural identity in the United States. The decade between 1920 and 1930 was an extremely influential span of time for the Black culture. During these years Blacks were able to come together and form a united group that expressed a desire for enlightenment. This renaissance allowed Blacks to have a uniform voice in a society based upon intellectual growth. The front-runners of this revival were extremely focused on cultural growth through means of intellect, literature, art and music. By using these means of growth, they hoped to destroy the pervading racism and stereotypes suffocating the African American society and yearned for racial and social integration. Many Black writers spoke out during this span of time with books proving their natural humanity and desire for equality. In 1923 Jean Toomer’s Cane was published by the Boni and Liveright publishing company and received favorable reviews. The book was released during the heart of the Harlem Renaissance and promoted the encouragement and interest in African American culture.* For the next forty years, Cane was not printed and seemed to fade away as an influential book. Many publishers claimed Cane was too insubstantial to reprint and denied the revival of the book. In 1967 the book was finally reprinted. The reprinting came during a time known as The Second Renaissance. During The Harlem Renaissance and The Second Renaissance, both times of revival and rebirth of a culture, Toomer’s novel was printed. Thus showing the significance of the novel during times of resurrection for African American culture. The book explains how other races in the North and in... ... middle of paper ... suppression and attain dreams by just believing. I argue Kabnis should be the face of the south for all blacks because he took control himself and bypassed all social constructs and created his own dream and his own path. The only way for a restrained person to fulfill their fantasy is to shatter the limitations placed upon them and use their God given talents to conceive this dream. Jean Toomer is portraying himself through Ralph Kabnis. Toomer had a vision where his art would dominate the prejudices and societal limits undermining the inner talents each and every person has no matter the race. The Harlem Renaissance, with assistance from Cane, allowed African Americans to conquer the social construct placed upon their race and achieve success by reveling their talents. Works Cited Toomer, Jean. Cane. New York, NY: W. W. Norton & Company, 1988.

In this essay, the author

  • Describes the harlem renaissance as an intellectual and literary period of growth promoting a new african american cultural identity in the united states.
  • Analyzes how toomer's novel, cane, was published during the harlem renaissance and the second renaissance. it explains how other races in the north and south viewed blacks.
  • Explains that jean toomer was born nathnan eugene pinchback, a light-skinned man who could pass for white, and his mother, nina, was of african-american descent.
  • Analyzes how cane is written in a way that is different and freer versed than other novels. there are three sections where toomer describes situations having to do with different races in different areas of the states.
  • Analyzes how the novel depicts poor african american women living in rural georgia. the opening segment contains stories depicting miscegenation, interbreeding, infanticide, religious mysticism, and lynching.
  • Analyzes how toomer conveys that the black culture still has an immense amount of proving to do before the white man will allow the sun to shine on their accomplishments.
  • Analyzes how the opening character toomer writes about in cane is an african american young woman named karintha.
  • Argues toomer is allowing the white men in this section to ignore the social construct of race and lust over karintha to show how looks are the only factor governing these color barriers.
  • Analyzes how the second section of cane takes place in washington d.c. where toomer describes the life of urban african americans in the early 1920's.
  • Suggests that toomer has this moon shaped figure rising to show the growth of the african american culture from the past section.
  • Analyzes how toomer's vignette titled "theater" conveys that the social construct society has placed upon race has created hierarchal tension in black on black relations but can still be overlooked by talent.
  • Analyzes how toomer creates a relationship between dorris and john to show how one can be blinded by social status.
  • Analyzes how toomer allows dorris to display her god-given dance skills so john will drop the prejudice and recognize the natural talents this talented african american girl holds.
  • Analyzes how kabnis is a one-act play about an urban african american writer who travels to the south to seek an identity for his fellow african americans.
  • Posits that this halo is an analogy for the sun. the sun is foreshadowing that the goal will be completed in the final section.
  • Analyzes how ralph kabnis is a trailblazer for his african american culture and the walking model for the modernization of their race.
  • Analyzes how jean toomer's art would dominate the prejudices and societal limits undermining the inner talents of each and every person. the harlem renaissance allowed african americans to conquer the social construct placed upon their race and achieve success by reveling their talents.
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