The Great Migration In Jean Toomer's Cane

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Jean Toomer 's composite novel Cane, mirrors the Greek play The Bacchae by Euripides. This is accomplished through the use of specific symbolism and references to the vagrant preacher and Greek God, Dionysos. Toomer retells this play through his short story Esther. He does so by telling the story of a character who, after leaving the south and then returning, comes back entirely transformed. In addition, the perspective of a woman is given. She remains in the south her entire life in order to put focus on the realization as to what has been lost through this migration from the south once the man returns. Toomer 's intentions in weaving these two pieces together are to illustrate the transformation that African-Americans underwent, as they migrated from the south to the north, and the noticeable changes that occurred in the case that they returned to the south once again. It is through this medium that Toomer conveys the cultural loss of the south caused by the historical Great Migration. In The Bacchae, one important thing to note for future reference in Toomer 's Cane is the character Dionysos, who is first seen arriving in the land of Thebes, from which his worship has been forbidden. But despite this, he still holds …show more content…
Toomer captures these struggles of southern cultural loss faced after the Reconstruction Era through the story of Barlo who once lived in the south. After he abandons the south then returns, Barlo is met with repulsion from Esther who once idolized him. Toomer maps onto The Bacchae by recreating Dionysos through "King Barlo", not to mention through the various similarities in the text. It is through these means that Jean Toomer gives his take on this historical moment of

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