Thursday, October 26th, 2017...6:14 pmmooree

What is Cane?

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To me, Cane is a compilation of works, all different, yet all sharing a common theme.  If I could categorize Cane into one genre, I would call it an “anthology of human experience” specifically, human experience of African Americans.  The styles of writing, prose and poetry, call to mind several various aspects of the human experience.  In the poetry throughout this work, I see descriptions of nature used to describe events and people  and  descriptions of environmental occurrences, like in “Storm Ending” where Toomer uses thunder, flowers, and rain to create an image of the natural environment.  The short stories of prose capture the essence of struggle that these people endure on a daily basis, whether it be race-related, gender-related, or merely about the trials of love and desire.

The first arch is geared more towards the rural life in the Deep South whereas the second arch tells stories of urbanization and life in working and going to school.  These themes are what holds this anthology together, along with relationships between men and women.  The writing style of Toomer also connects separate narratives and accounts throughout this piece of literature.  Short, declarative sentences present the ideas, more specifically the emotions, like desire for example, that the respective characters are feeling.

Despite the fact that anthologies usually hold many different works by many different authors, I still would count “Cane” as a type of anthology because although Toomer is the sole author, he takes on many different voices in his prose and poetry.  In each short story and short poem, the reader is immediately thrown into a new setting with Toomer writing in various points of view, but always as an insider in some way to these stories of intimacy and pain.  He presents the stories in separate ways, from the first person, personal account in “Avey” to a candid and quick third-person telling similar to the structure of  dialogue in a written play in the story, “Theater”.  In the poetry, the word “us” or possessive adjectives like “my” are often used as well, showing that a clear, voice exists in each, whether the writer relates to what is being written or is simply commenting on an event/instance from the outside.


1 Comment

  •   Professor Seiler
    November 7th, 2017 at 2:15 am

    Emma, the “anthology” idea is really promising! At the risk of over-emphasizing one part of your strong post: I keep waiting for a student to write a great environmental criticism paper or senior thesis about _Cane_. Maybe that will be you?

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