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Unformatted text preview: It begins with “Bona and Paul” in Chicago, moving to the South in “Kabnis” and then returns back to the North in “Box Seat” and “Harvest Song”. As Davis explains: We begin with ‘Bona and Paul’…frustration, then, is accompanied by the intimation of a new connection, ‘awakening’…’Kabnis’ is the direct confrontation with what it means to be black in the South…the progress of consciousness moves next to the North where city realities are weighed against Southern black strength (Davis 257-8). The cultural strength and spirit that Toomer exposed himself to in the South had a clear impact on the way Toomer wrote Cane . Although this may be true, Davis fails to mention other plausible influences. He glosses over a key fact in Toomer’s personal history: Toomer did not write all of Cane while he was in Georgia. Also, before Toomer lived in the South for that brief period, he met many authors with whom he was close. Davis simply doesn’t consider the other aspects of Toomer’s life that inspired him to write Can e in the way that he did. Another influence on Toomer and Cane , as Foley argues, was Toomer’s socioeconomic status. Toomer’s grandfather, Pinckney Pinchback was a very prominent figure in the African American community. He “was a captain in the second regiment of Louisiana’s Native Guard…the first black lieutenant governor of Louisiana…even served as the Acting Governor” (Byrd and Gates xxii-xxiii). Because of his grandfather’s high- ranking status, Toomer lived a very elitist life. When he lived in Washington D.C., Toomer was “among Washington’s aristocrats of color” (Foley 320). During that time, the upper class of African Americans did not entirely fit in well with the rest of society. They 76 wanted to be brought into the white society but struggled because of their skin color. But, they also failed to be accepted into the rest of the African American population. This clearly impacted Toomer and eventually impacted the depiction of city life in Cane . Barbara Foley’s main argument centers on the idea that class is generally taken out of critics’ discussion of Cane . She finds this to be problematic, “I shall stress here… an issue that is often obscured in discussions of Toomer’s attitudes toward and conceptions of race – namely, the imprint left by his consciousness of class” (Foley 314). She believes that Toomer grew up surrounded by a mixture of “snobbery and social activism”. His experiences among this elite crowd had a large impact on his writings and how they portray racial issues (Foley 314-315). Foley argues that Toomer was largely influenced because he accepted his socioeconomic status to be part of who he was. He called his class “my aristocracy” (Foley 323). But the key part of her argument is how Toomer’s lifestyle affected Cane. She continues on in her essay as she describes how the second section of Toomer’s novel represents the racial issues surrounding the elite society that Toomer grew up in. She uses “Bona and Paul” as one example of his point. that Toomer grew up in....
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- Spring '08
- Winesburg, Ohio, SON-9