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WR150 Portfolio

B claim toomers life as part of the african american

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b. CLAIM: Toomer’s life as part of the African American aristocracy in Washington D.C. affected the way that racial issues were portrayed in Cane . b.i. Claim: Toomer had pride in his socioeconomic background. b.i.1. Evidence: “Toomer’s characterization of Washington’s black elite as a aristocracy, possessing ‘personal refinement’” (322).
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66 b.i.2. Evidence: “Toomer to a degree associated privilege with merit” (322). b.ii. Claim: Toomer’s racial ambiguity is linked with his consciousness as part of an elite group. b.ii.1. Evidence: “adolescent decision to ‘say nothing [about his racial identity] unless the question was raised’ produce ‘outraged…feelings’” (322). b.ii.2. Evidence: “He felt threatened that his ‘aristocracy might be invaded’” (322). b.ii.3. Evidence: “Not only does he claim to belong to an ‘aristocracy’; he refers to ‘my aristocracy’ almost as an intrinsic feature of his make-up” (323) b.iii. Claim: The socialist movement influenced Toomer. b.iii.1. Evidence: “Two works published in 1919…reveal a Toomer directing both lyrical and analytical powers toward the articulation of an unmistakably left0wing analysis of U.S. society” (325). b.iii.2. Evidence: “’Reflections on the Race Riots’ shows Toomer viewing the phenomenon of U.S. racism from an explicitly Marxist standpoint” (325). b.iii.3. Evidence: “he adhered to a class analysis of the structural underpinning of racism…as the only plausible solution to the problems of racial oppression and working- class division” (326). b.iv. Claim: Cane exemplified Toomer’s radical views. b.iv.1. Evidence: “He wrote to publisher Horace Liveright in 1923 that his next book would treat ‘this whole black and brown world heaving upward against, here and there mixing with the white…this upward heaving is to be symbolic of the proletariat or world upheaval. And it is likewise to be symbolic of the subconscious penetration of the conscious mind’” (327). b.iv.2. Evidence: “In his Cane -period journal, Toomer predicted the tragedy that would result if black anger were to find a non-class-conscious outlet: ‘a race war will occur in America’” (327). b.iv.3. Evidence: “’I am trying to grasp Washington…as a living feature of my consciousness’” (330-1). b.iv.4. Evidence: “’Bona and Paul’, for example, gains a crucial historical dimension when read as a commentary… on its light-skinned hero’s dilemma of racial identification but also on the increasing segregation of public facilities in the world” (331). b.iv.5. Evidence: “In ‘Avey’, too, the situation of the autobiographical narrator gains in significance when put in
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67 Jung the context of Toomer’s youthful experiences in black elite Washington” (331). b.iv.6. Evidence: “the narrator in ‘Avey’ simultaneously criticizes the cultural shallowness and sexual repressiveness of his class and asserts his ambivalent identification with that class” (333).
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