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

1405 Words Nov 14th, 2016 6 Pages
Miscegenation and race are woven into the historical context of Southern society and traditions. Jean Toomer’s Cane focuses on the ambiguities of its characters’ mixed heritage which is perceived as a means of creating 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 modify 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 as 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. It can be assumed that Fern is not completely black, white or Jewish and is, perhaps, a combination of all mentioned. Her existence, as a mixed race person, blurs racial boundaries which are set forth by 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…

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