Use of Imagery in Jean Toomer's Cane Essay

Use of Imagery in Jean Toomer's Cane Essay

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Use of Imagery in Jean Toomer's Cane


Dusk. It is that darker side of twilight when the sun has just set, but the moon has yet to take full charge. It is a time of mergings, of vagueness and ambiguity, when an end and a beginning change places. The sun steps aside and lets the moon and stars take over for a while. As the most pervasive image in the first section of Jean Toomer's Cane, it is the time of day when "[t]he sky, lazily disdaining to pursue/The setting sun, too indolent to hold/ A lengthened tournament for flashing gold,/Passively darkens" ("Georgia Dusk," 15). It is also a reflection of the souls of the characters, like Karintha, "perfect as dusk when the sun goes down" (3). Dusk and its smoky, dreamlike derivatives form the connective imagery joining light and dark, day and night, black and white. It is the kind of imagery that most closely articulates what George Hutchinson called Toomer's dream of a new "American" race in his essay "Jean Toomer and American Racial Discourse" (227). He says, "Toomer's vision of a coming merging of the races makes perfect sense within the framework of the first section of Cane: the dystopia of the contemporary South implies a corresponding utopia" (234). While Hutchinson's theories rely heavily upon miscegenation and Toomer's use of racially mixed characters, the more compelling evidence seems to lie in the murkiness of both the mystic-like atmosphere of rural Georgia and the half created characterizations of its people. Through his distinctly modern use of imagery, Toomer creates a new iconography that defines a vision of the future where colors merge and race is no longer the harbinger of identity.

To call Toomer's agenda and use of imagery modern implies ...


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...on, George. "Jean Toomer and American Racial Discourse." Texas Studies in Literature and Language. 35, 2 (Summer 1993). 226-245.

Reuben, Paul P. "'Chapter 9: Harlem Renaissance - Jean Toomer.' PAL: Perspectives in American Literature - A Research Guide. URL" http://www.csustan.edu/english/reuben/pal/chap9/toomer.html

Toomer, Jean. Cane. New York: Norton, 1988.

Toomer, Jean. Selected Essays and Literary Criticism. ed. Robert Jones.
Knoxville: UT Press, 1996.

Whyde, Janet. "Mediating Forms: Narrating the Body in Jean Toomer's Cane." Southern Literary Journal. 26, 1 (Fall 1993). 42-52.

Williams, Scott. "A Jean Toomer Page" http://members.aol.com/bonvibre/toomer0.html

Yeats, William Butler. "Into the Twilight." The Norton Anthology of Modern Poetry. eds. Richard Ellman and Robert O'Clair. New York: Norton & Company, 1988.

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