Historical Context Of Southern Society And Traditions By Jean Toomer 's Cane

1715 Words Nov 14th, 2016 7 Pages
Miscegenation and race are critical themes which are embedded into the historical context of Southern society and traditions. Jean Toomer’s Cane focuses on the ambiguities of its characters’ mixed heritage which creates a new race—the human race. The subject of miscegenation and race in William Faulkner’s Absalom, Absalom! receives an adverse perception because it deconstructs Sutpen’s intended design of a family dynasty. Both novels share a thematic concern of miscegenation and race which speaks to the notion of modifying traditions and racial sacrifices.
Toomer’s Cane explores the modernist perspective of racial identities being deconstructed to eliminate the traditions of racial purity. In the modernist tradition, the language of “Fern” lies in ambiguity in regards to her racial identity. Toomer equates Fern’s skin complexion to a “soft cream foam” and a “creamy brown color of her upper lip” (Toomer 18). He points out a significant racial marker of Fern’s nose being “aquiline, Semantic” (18). At this moment, the reader is unable to fully pinpoint her racial identity on account of Toomer’s modernist conflict with language. Fern is not completely black, white or Jewish and is, perhaps, a mixture of all mentioned. Her existence, as a mixed race person, blurs racial boundaries on account of white supremacy. Hence, society’s inability to categorize Fern’s racial identity allows her to transcend the restrictive categories of race and to form a new race—the human race. Fern…

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