Before diving into the separate texts background

Info icon This preview shows pages 83–85. Sign up to view the full content.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
Before diving into the separate texts, background information about Toomer, specifically his living environment when he wrote Cane, his socioeconomic status, and the relationships that he had with other writers, need to be explored. Toomer was originally born in Washington D.C., though his parents were born in Georgia. Shortly after his birth, his parents separated and Toomer moved to New York to live with his grandparents and his mother. After his mother died in 1909, Toomer went back to Washington to live with his uncle. In the following six years, Toomer attended multiple universities but failed to complete his studies at all of them. Despite this, Toomer was able to begin his writing in 1918, which was also when he moved back and forth between New York, Milwaukee, and Chicago. Three short years later, in 1921, Jean Toomer briefly lived in Georgia for three months to serve as an acting principal at a school. During his stay, Toomer wrote a large portion of Cane. He ultimately returned to New York by the time he completed writing Cane in 1923 (Byrd and Gates 445-447).
Image of page 83

Info iconThis preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
84 In his essay, Charles Davis focuses solely on the time period Jean Toomer spent in Georgia and he claims that this was most important to Toomer when he wrote Cane . Although obvious influences from the South appear in the text of Cane , Davis’ argument is incomplete. According to him, “The event that provoked Toomer’s emergence as an artist…was the period of three months in 1921 which Toomer spent in Georgia” (250). Toomer’s experience in the South contrasted immensely with his experience in the North. Aside from the fact that the North was urban and the South was rural, the atmospheres of the two regions were also different. In the Georgia, there was a physical and spiritual aspect that Toomer was drawn to. He notes, “the setting was crude in a way, but strangely rich and beautiful” (qtd. in Davis 250). But furthermore, “the artist was moved by the spirituals sung…he was touched…by the sense that they represented a dying folk-spirit” (Davis 250). As Davis points out in his essay, Toomer was attracted to these qualities of the South: the land, the spirit, and what they both represented to the African Americans. This attraction is what guided Toomer in writing Cane . Davis further argues how Toomer’s South, created both in his mind and in the text of Cane , exemplifies a consciousness of the narrator in the particular story. In the “Song of the Son”, this consciousness is a “sophisticated intelligence yearning for completion…and finding the means for achieving [this] in contact with the South and the newly discovered black culture” (Davis 255). Davis argues that the context of the South helps us understand the real emotions and experiences of Toomer’s characters. He goes further to say that this consciousness is also responsible for the circular design of Cane . Toomer “sees the necessity for regional connection, for the Northern black to acquire the emotional strengths that black Southerners still possess” (Davis 256). The circular movement of the
Image of page 84
Image of page 85
This is the end of the preview. Sign up to access the rest of the document.

{[ snackBarMessage ]}

What students are saying

  • Left Quote Icon

    As a current student on this bumpy collegiate pathway, I stumbled upon Course Hero, where I can find study resources for nearly all my courses, get online help from tutors 24/7, and even share my old projects, papers, and lecture notes with other students.

    Student Picture

    Kiran Temple University Fox School of Business ‘17, Course Hero Intern

  • Left Quote Icon

    I cannot even describe how much Course Hero helped me this summer. It’s truly become something I can always rely on and help me. In the end, I was not only able to survive summer classes, but I was able to thrive thanks to Course Hero.

    Student Picture

    Dana University of Pennsylvania ‘17, Course Hero Intern

  • Left Quote Icon

    The ability to access any university’s resources through Course Hero proved invaluable in my case. I was behind on Tulane coursework and actually used UCLA’s materials to help me move forward and get everything together on time.

    Student Picture

    Jill Tulane University ‘16, Course Hero Intern