Toomer's Seventh Street, Depicts Life and Issues in the Prohibition Period

Toomer's Seventh Street, Depicts Life and Issues in the Prohibition Period

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Toomer's Seventh Street, Depicts Life and Issues in the Prohibition Period


Toomer captures very deep thoughts in his writing in fairly simple language. The way he works his ideas into the text is amazing. In "Seventh Street," an excerpt from his larger work, Cane, Toomer blends ethnic ideas together while speaking about issues that involve the whole public spectrum.

He begins with a four-line verse that draws the reader in and helps him to visualize the setting.


Money burns the pocket, pocket hurts,
Bootleggers in silken shirts,
Ballooned, zooming Cadillacs,
Whizzing, whizzing down the street-car tracks.

The world Toomer is speaking about seems very busy and fast-paced. He uses street imagery to create the feeling of excitement and energy. In these first few lines of text, he brings up the topic of Prohibition indirectly. He talks of how the bootleggers, those who find a way to get their hands on alcohol and then sell it illegally, are quite wealthy and drive up and down Seventh Street in their Cadillacs with their nice clothes and their money almost burning holes in their pockets. The last line is significant in that he makes the point that they are driving down the street-car tracks in Cadillacs. It seems as though he is making the distinction between the elite and the people of lesser means.

In the beginning of the prose section, Toomer describes Seventh Street as the "bastard of Prohibition and the War." Seventh Street is a product of Prohibition and World War I merged together. He goes on to describe how Prohibition and World War I affect the events and the people who live on this street. The people feel as if too many rights are being taken away from them with the onset of...


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... forbid! A black God!" Toomer says God would call for the Judgment Day, as if the world would be over, if our God were a black God and it would be time to end everything. However, in all reality God should not be stereotyped the way we stereotype everything else. I believe Toomer is trying to make the point that we cannot place stipulations on God and His appearance when we have never seem Him with our own eyes.

Toomer ends the work with the same four-line verse with which he drew his reader in. I believe the prose section deepens the meaning of the verse and by ending with it, he reminds us of what exactly he was writing about in the beginning. It almost shows the difference between appearance and reality. The irony of it all is that the verse shows how their lifestyle appears and the prose section describes the way life really is on Seventh Street.

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