American Identities Final Paper

With this theme of color toomer is able to portray

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With this theme of color, Toomer is able to portray the separation between blacks and whites literally and symbolically . The alliteration used in these lines are with the words, “ash”, “flesh”, and “flame” . These words are of obvious importance and by using alliteration, Toomer is able to put stress on these words of significance . In Claude McKay’s poem, “The Lynching”, he starts the poem with a spiritual tone: His Spirit in smoke ascended to high heaven. His father, by the cruelest way of pain, Had bidden him to his bosom once again; The awful sin remained still unforgiven(2111, 1-4). These lines mark the difference between McKay’s tone and that of Brooks and Toomer. As opposed to the latter two, McKay regards the victim of the lynching as a “Spirit”. Most literary representations of lynchings only focus on the horrific image of the hanging African American, however McKay’s poem introduces the religious and spiritual aspect to these horrible deaths. By 3
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capitalizing the word “spirit”, McKay also emphasizes the direct identification between spirit and body. As soon as the African American dies, their spirit “ascends to heaven”, a more peaceful way of thinking of death. Although lynchings were horrific acts of violence, McKay stresses the spiritual aspect, which contributes a tone of empathy to the poem. McKay also focuses on the contrast in mood that was present at a lynching . This general contrast between lightness and darkness is evident in line 10 of the poem, “The ghastly body swaying in the sun”(2111) . With this line, McKay provides his reader with the haunting image of a beautiful day in regards to weather, yet a horrific hanging that casts a shadow . This general contrast is made more specific in the following lines, “The women thronged to look, but never a one/Showed sorrow in her eyes of steely blue”(12-13) .
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