The understanding that toomer got from temporarily

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life which contrasted with what he had seen about him in…the North” (Davis 260). The understanding that Toomer got from temporarily living in the South gave him a positive outlook on the Southern African American race, which he displays throughout Cane . This gives Davis the impression that Toomer is identifying with the African American population. Barbara Foley takes on a slightly more different stance. She acknowledges that race is a large aspect of discussion in terms of Cane and Jean Toomer. However, she points out a flaw in other critics’ analyses. She believes that Toomer’s socioeconomic status had a large influence on Toomer’s novel, and that it has been taken out of the discussion even though it is an essential element. Foley states, “recoupling race with class permits us to resituate in history the consciousness that produced Cane ” (Foley 315). She thinks that understanding Toomer’s class status will shed new light on his novel. This is a distinct difference between Foley and Davis’s argument. Instead of region being the most influential factor to Cane, Foley believes it’s class. Foley provides background on Toomer before diving into her argument. She notes how Toomer grew up in a relatively wealthy family because he was the grandson of P.B.S. Pinchback, a very influential African American figure. During his childhood, Toomer grew up in Washington D.C., “the center of black aristocracy in the United States” (Foley 315). He was surrounded by light-skinned African Americans and lived life relatively comfortably. However this created problems for Toomer because he soon associated his racial uncertainty with his social status. He claims “to belong to an ‘aristocracy’; he refers to ‘my aristocracy’
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59 Jung almost as an intrinsic feature” (Foley 322-323). Considering the environment he grew up in, it makes it easy for Foley to make the argument that Toomer’s social status became a part of him as race is – something he couldn’t change. Also the connection that he made between his own undetermined race and his social status became inseparable. Being a part of the elite group of African Americans in Washington D.C. also gave him the impression that he was a light-skinned African American. The core of Foley’s essay is introduced when she discusses how Toomer’s novel was affected by his interpretation of his social status. She mentions how Toomer intended the second part of Cane to be representative of Washington D.C. Toomer wanted it to grasp, as Foley quotes, “a vital, living feature of [his] consciousness” (Foley 331). Her first piece of evidence in Cane is the story “Bona and Paul”. She argues that reading this and focusing on the idea of social class changes a lot for its overall message. The scene in “Bona and Paul” that Foley points out is when Bona and Paul try to get into a club. Foley believes that this displays the image of a man trying to break the laws of segregation because he says, “white faces are petals of roses. That dark faces are petals of dusk. That I am going out and gather petals” (Toomer 78). Paul does not specify which petals he is referring to which assumes
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Christopher Reinemann
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