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Question Was:"How Does "Cane" Make Use Of The Blues, Jazz, Spirituals, Or Other Forms Of African American Music? Can You Detect Any Parallels With James Baldwin's "Sonny's Blues"?

983 words - 4 pages

Reaction Paper - Jean Toomer, "Cane"One not only reads Toomer, one hears him; his words live beyond the page, full of rhythm, sight and sound. In the introduction it is said, "Toomer spent his later years wondering why the reading public of his day failed to see that 'Cane was a song of an end', a song that had helped Toomer to put the racial disquiet within himself to rest."(Toomer 1168) Much of his writing seems to perhaps been hummed or muttered under the breath, much like lyrics of a popular song exerting their influence. It is at times dark, and light, free spirited, even jovial, but never meaningless.In Toomer's first story "Karintha", the opening stanza;Her skin is like dusk on the ...view middle of the document...

"A pianist slips into the pit and improvises jazz. The walls awake. Arms of the girls, and their limbs, which . . jazz, jazz, . . by lifting up their tight street skirts they set free, jab the air and clog the floor in rhythm to the music." (Toomer 1199) You can feel the movement like a song. As though every word is its own beat, its own jazzy note. You could put the whole story to chords and soft wispy tap and scrape of a cymbal.There is a continuous mention of music throughout his works used as description of feeling. In the story "Fern", Toomer says "But at first sight of her I felt as if I heard a Jewish cantor sing. As if his singing rose above the unheard chorus of a folk-song. And I felt bound to her."(Toomer 1179) These images give us such a warm attraction to these characters. Almost hearing the music in the back ground as he comes to her. Then he goes on when she falls to her knees and says, "It found her throat, and spattered inarticulately in plaintive, brokenly. A Jewish cantor singing with a broken voice. A child's voice, uncertain, or an old man's. Dusk hid her; I could hear her song." (Toomer 1180) These two wonderfully stated phrases find me feeling as though he were describing the beginning and the end of their relationship. Using Music to communicate this. Much like James Baldwin did in "Sonny's Blues".In "Sonny's Blues" Brother sees Sonny on the street, carrying a notebook, while three sisters and a brother singing and testifying from...

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