Thursday, October 26th, 2017...9:27 pmAlexis Wiggins

Defining Cane

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Jane Toomer’s book “Cane” is a piece of literature that is unique to any I’ve read before. When asked, I would describe Cane as a collection of pieces that (so far) depict experiences of black people living in the south. These pieces take the form of writing prose and poetry, but sometimes the writing prose have short poems in them. They touch on a variety of subjects, including racism, racial violence, the hardships for women, love and lust. The pieces also vividly describe the landscape and atmosphere of the south. In reading Cane for the first time, the book can be sort of perplexing because it seems like there is no overarching plot, which is true in a way. It is crucial to understand that each piece is significant by itself, but is also adding to the overall meaning of the book. I’m not quite sure which genre I would place Cane into. If there was a genre in literacy called “alternative” like there is in music I think this book would fit into that very well. What genre it should be placed in other than that I’m unsure of because of the multiple forms of writing that are used throughout the book.


  • I really like your comparison to alternative music. I think part of the point of this novel, however, is the extent to which it refuses to conform to any single genre, which I think your blog post really gets at. Despite not fitting into a certain category, the different short stories and poems do have similar ideas that tie it together.

  •   Aliya Nichols
    October 30th, 2017 at 5:20 pm

    I agree that each story in Cane can stand alone and that it is difficult to put them in conversation with each other because there is no over arching plot. I like how you compared Cane t the music style “alternative” because it is an alternative to the mainstream genres we are used to reading.

  • I also struggled with how I perceived the generally structure of Cane; is each piece suppose to stand on its own? Or are all of them suppose to connect in some underlying way? I think that contributes to it being so difficult to place Cane under a genre.

  •   Professor Seiler
    November 7th, 2017 at 2:20 am

    Lexie–I appreciate your candor about the difficulty of categorizing _Cane_, especially as compared to other works you’ve read. I wonder if you might dig in to the descriptor “collection of pieces” a bit more? Nice job.

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