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"?

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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 eastern horizon,

O cant you see it, O cant you see it,

Her skin is like dusk on the eastern horizon

. . . When the sun goes down.(Toomer 1170)

The story is presented in a call and response fashion much like a spiritual form. The Stanza is repeated again at the end of the story. Toomer uses both the ballad structure in "Karintha" and segments of poetry and prose that are blues like.

"Seventh Street" poem begins and is reaching out to be sung in the form of blues. This gospel like song, which is repeated at the end of the poem, is a song that shows the corruption of the black man in this fast paced city and has a tone of sentimentality yearning for a transformation of the soul for these people. The body of the poem is Toomer's blunt views on "Seventh Street" in free verse. The imagery is very intense and the rhythms and phrasings are very musical much like the story "Theater." The rhythms that...