Cane is a novel by HarlemRenaissance writer Jean Toomer. The book is arranged as a series of piecesrevolving around African Americans, their experiences and beginnings in the U.S.They switch in style between narrative, poetry, and theater like dialogue.
Becauseof this, the novel has been grouped as a compound novel or a short story. Even thoughsome characters and conditions repeat between pieces, the pieces are mostly unrelated,only connected to the other vignettes thematically and contextually opposed to explicitplot details. Due to these unusual conditions, there are a couple ways to lookat the section we looked at. Part 1 takes place in Georgia and containsnarratives named “Karintha”, “Becky”, “Fern”, “Blood Burning Moon” and “Carma”.Most of the narratives focus on women and their mysterious but attractivenature. They are alone by choice, keeping to themselves because of the dangeror disappointment that trails with love.
The poems are called “Reapers”, “NovemberFlower, Face”, “Cotton Song”, “Song of the Son”, “Georgia Dusk”, “Nullo”, “EveningSong”, “Conversion” and “Portrait in the Georgia.” The poems are more so aboutthe work of laborers, the dislocation of African religion and the brutality andbeauty that lived in the south. Slavery has a large undertone, as do violenceand loss. Some of the poems have rhythm with heightened energy, probably linkedback to the energy of songs, slaves used to sing, whereas others are broken. Byanalyzing the first part of Cane,I that Toomer stresses the metaphor of the women in the South, over and over usingthem as a beginning to his stories. They resist a single line of thinking aboutrace, region, and gender in favor of an indeterminacy that has to be thoroughlyread into or interpreted subjectively. Moreover, Toomer consistently associatesthe women with a trope of the road, attributing to them a mediatory as heencourages separate understandings of the folk and in so doing a metaphoricalrecovery of an African American folk identity