Sunday, October 29th, 2017...4:22 pmpierrec

What is Cane?

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It is without a doubt that Cane takes on a multitude of genres and writing styles. Its genre can range from dramatic romance, to action, and to sometimes a thriller. Every piece in this book, rather it is a story, anecdote, or poem, can stand firmly by itself and it doesn’t need to be in a book with content in order to be understood (in fact, when I began reading the book, I would separate each “sub-piece” and I thought it too difficult to consider it to be one unifying piece). Sometimes I still do have difficulty recognizing it as one huge piece, but I think it should be received in that fashion because there are distinctive images, like cotton, cane and fog that sneaks its way into every “sub-piece.” These images provide a thread that weaves these “sub-pieces” together, and it provides emphasis on tasks and realities that African Americans faced in the early 1900s. The harvesting of cotton and cane were often performed by black bodies. I think Cane holds a huge prominence in black culture because of that and the style of writing that Toomer uses; naming these people and talking about them as if we personally knew them, is so effective and so grasping. The passage that I really love is “Becky.” Toomer begins this piece with “Becky was the white woman who had two Negro sons,” and I immediately thought of the pop culture reference; “Becky with the good hair” (8). In pop and black culture, “Becky with the good hair,” is that very light-skin or even white girl who attracts a black man. It’s a stigma that when this kind of interracial love happens, some other black woman is being robbed of a potential lover or husband so, it’s so interesting how we use these themes and ideas addressed in Cane today.


  • I don’t think that the pieces inside the book should be considered as a whole, as they can all stand alone as you said. However, there are unifying factors that lace the different pieces together through repetition of words of images, not necessarily through narration or storyline. Words such as cane regularly appear throughout the pieces, as the title suggests. There is also the image of skin like dusk that reappears to suggest the description of a black individual.

  •   Aliya Nichols
    October 30th, 2017 at 5:17 pm

    I like how you pointed out that Cane takes on many genres as well as writing styles. I think that the different writing styles is separate from the different genres that the piece is written in. I find the different writing styles interesting because it shows that Cane is a book that can not be classified into one category and it causes readers to think why all of these styles are present.

  •   Professor Seiler
    November 7th, 2017 at 2:25 am

    Chelsea-Mia–nice job working to connect the multiplicity of forms/styles in _Cane_ to the lives and images it arrays. I’m struck especially by your grasp of how small, local details / motifs hold the “one huge piece” together (… and, of course, by your pop culture connection!).

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