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WR150 Portfolio

Finally by the end of the novel george matured fully

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Finally by the end of the novel, George matured fully. He is more aware of his emotions and controls them in a sophisticated manner. As Anderson describes in his penultimate story “Sophistication”, “In youth there are always two forces fighting in people…and the older, the more sophisticated thing had possession of George” (134). George has clearly grown up since his relationship with his mother. The growth George experiences makes the linear progression of the novel seem accurate. But in Cane , a circular design fits better with its theme of race and oppression. By exploring “Kabnis”, the last section of Toomer’s novel, it is clear to see that despite the end of slavery, racial oppression still exists in the South and that not much has changed since then. Kabnis, a teacher from the North comes to the South to try and preach but he fears the white population. He thinks that they are going to kill him because he’s from the North. Kabnis says, “’God Almighty, theyre here. After me. On me.’” (Toomer 91). However, his friends tell him that the white people do not showcase their attacks as much as they before. They are “more direct. If whaty they wanted was t get y, theyd have just marched right in an took y where y sat” (Toomer 92). The scare Kabnis gets while he is in the South exemplifies how racial issues did not disappear even long after slavery ended. The fact that no change occurred since the past proves the circular design of Cane that Toomer intended. The final
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80 structure of Toomer’s novel resulted from his interactions with Frank and Anderson and worked best with the message Toomer wanted to convey. Overall, many aspects affected Toomer and his writings. On the one hand, as Davis suggests, Toomer’s experience while living in the South profoundly influenced his opinion on the African American culture. On the other hand, Foley offers another possibility of Toomer’s social status being the most important factor in Toomer’s writing. HIs exposure to the upper class impacted Toomer’s views on racial oppression in society. Both Davis and Foley offer reasonable arguments, but more significantly, their arguments ignore Toomer’s largest influence. The whole structure of Cane is accredited to Waldo Frank and Sherwood Anderson, Toomer’s good friends. As argued by Charles Scruggs, those two writers altered Toomer’s vision for Cane . Going further than his analysis, however, Toomer’s decision for a circular structure is clear when discussing the theme of his book. This is an analysis that Davis, Foley, and Scruggs all fail to make. When we consider the different influences of Cane, it questions whether the overall interpretation of Cane changes. If we assume Toomer’s greatest influence was in fact Frank and Anderson, Cane represents the lack of change from the past to the present and how racial progression didn’t occur. Moreover, if we assume Toomer’s main influence was, as Foley suggested, his social class then we begin to see how social issues are linked to race.
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