Slavery, Cane, And The Great Migration By Jean Toomer

1334 Words 6 Pages
The Great Migration marked the mass exodus of African Americans from the rural south to the urban north. The migration was sparked by increased racial violence in the South, the promise of better economic opportunities for Blacks, and a strong desire for reinvention. Influenced by the plight of African Americans in both regions, Jean Toomer published Cane in 1923. Using a mixture of poems and short stories, Toomer focuses on the Southern and Northern narrative and ultimately addresses the reconciliation of the two regions within an individual. Many writers that participated in the Harlem Renaissance revered Toomer’s unique approach to the Great Migration. When speaking of Jean Toomer, William Braithwaite exclaimed, “[he] is a bright morning …show more content…
“The two boys grew. Sullen and cunning… O pines, whisper to Jesus; tell Him to come and press sweet Jesus-lips against their lips and eyes…” (6) Once again the acts and religious beliefs of the town are in conflict as the town prays that Jesus will show them love and protection. Though Becky and her sons receive support from the town they are never able to fully rejoin the community. As a result of a lifetime of ostracization Becky 's children are angry and resentful towards the entire town. The prayers of the town go unanswered as the two boys become the physical manifestation of the hatred they were born into. “We, who had cast their mother out because of them, could we take them in? They answered black and white folks by shooting up two men and leaving town. "Godam the white folks; godam the niggers," they shouted as they left town” (6). The townspeople who have ‘cast’ out Becky wonder about taking in the two sons that represented Becky’s racial betrayal. This consideration to let the boys integrate into the town signifies the beginning of change and the continued modernization of the town. Unfortunately, it is too late for reconsideration because the boys have grown up to want nothing to do with either race. As a result of their exile the boys have no allegiance to the racial groups that have turned their backs on them …show more content…
Describing Becky’s face after ‘her’ story has been told alludes to the fact that the audience truly does not know the entirety of Becky’s life. Described as a woman with, “silver-gray,” hair that are, “like streams of stars,” this portrait of Becky comes at a later time in her life. The metaphorical description of Becky’s face tells that reader that though they are be given more insight, Becky is more of a myth than she is a reality. Her description can never fully be written down because of the continued uncertainty and mystery that shrouds existence in mystery. Throughout the short poem, her hair, eyebrows, and eyes are describes but her mouth is never mentioned. In “Becky”, her mouth was described as being settled in a twist. The absence of an additional description of her mouth is compacted by the realization that Becky’s voice is never heard and they never will be. The last lines of the poem, “cluster grapes of sorrow/ purple in the evening sun/ nearly ripe for worms,” (8) indicate that Toomer is describing Becky’s face after she has

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