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WR150 Portfolio

Her skin is described as the dusk on the eastern

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and lived with the guilt from her actions. Her skin is described as the “dusk on the eastern horizon…when the sun goes down” (Toomer 5). From this line, we can interpret Karintha to be mixed. The next story, “Becky,” is about a white woman who had two African American sons and was ostracized by society because of it. The white population was not the only ones to shun her, but by her fellow African Americans did as well, “the white folks said they’d have no more to do with her. And black folks, they too joined hands to cast her out” (Toomer 9). Clearly, from these two stories alone, the influence of Toomer’s socioeconomic class is not apparent. He does not display any notion of racial or social discrimination. Both white and mixed African American women were portrayed as being tragically traumatized. The arguments made by Davis and Foley only hold true for portions of the book. With that said, they lack evidence that Toomer’s environment had the largest influence on Cane . Throughout his writing career, Toomer exposed himself to various styles of writing through reading and interacting with other authors. The Cane Years, a short autobiographical piece, gives brief insight on this. Toomer mentions, “ I was reading only literary works. This was the period when I was so strongly influenced…Robert Frost’s New England poems strongly appealed to me. Sherwood Anderson’s Winesburg, Ohio opened my eyes to entirely new possibilities” (127). The works of literature that these authors produced guided Toomer in his own writings. Charles Scruggs highlights specifically the influence of Waldo Frank and Sherwood Anderson on Toomer’s novel. They were among Toomer’s closest friends and had the most profound effect on his
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89 Jung writing. As Scruggs mentions, Frank had the “greater influence on Toomer” as the design of Frank’s novel City Block inspired the circular structure of Cane (Scruggs 277). Toomer saw potential in Frank’s design as a way to express his own views. Toomer appealed to “Frank’s pursuit of spiritual wholeness” and he wanted to accomplish the same theme in his own novel (Scruggs 282). In letters that he continually sent to Waldo Frank, Toomer discussed the progression of Cane as he was writing it. In one particular letter, sent on December 12, 1922, Toomer mentions how “ Cane ’s design is a circle. From the point of view of the spiritual entity behind the work, the curve really starts with Bona and Paul…plunges into Kabnis, emerges in Karintha etc. swings upward into Theatre and Box Seat, and ends in Harvest Song” (Toomer 162-163). This mirrors Frank’s design in City Block, which allowed Toomer to write a narrative that ended where it started. Despite Frank’s major influence on Toomer, Anderson also gave him insight on how Cane should be written. Toomer found limitations in Anderson’s writings and tried to go beyond them as he wrote Cane . But, in Scruggs’ discussion he falls short when describing the works of Anderson and Toomer. The structure of Winesburg, Ohio and Cane is obviously different. While Anderson’s novel progresses linearly with a central
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