“O pines, whisper to Jesus. . . Goose-flesh came on my skin though there still was neither chill nor wind.”
Toomer, Jean. “Becky.” Cane, p. 10
The story is revealed to be narrated from the first-person perspective. How does the differ when told in this perspective, as opposed to third-person? It suggests to me the narrator is expression a modicum of guilt. The perspective reads as a confession of his and the community’s culpability in the ostracization of Becky and her sons.
“It was Sunday. Our congregation had been visiting at Pulverton, and were coming home. There was no wind. The autumn sun, and bell from Ebenezer Church, listless and heavy” (Toomer 10).
Cane, Jean Toomer, p. 10
Switching between staccato sentences and longer sentences makes the passage seem more raw and real as it mirrors how thoughts form. The shorter sentences create breaks in the flow of the passage to emphasize the importance of smaller details in the setting of the vignette.
“Cotton bales are the fleecy way
Weary sinner’s bare feet trod,
Softly, softly to the throne of God,
’We ain’t agwine t wait until th Judgement Day!’”
– Toomer’s Cane, “Cotton Song”
This shows an obvious poetic form, which is present through the whole piece but the composition really hammers this in, allowing description to become poetic in a way that isn’t too descriptive. While there’s less description, there are still word choices that characterize in a powerful way
Hair- silver gray, like streams of stars, Brows- recurved canoes quivered by the ripples blown by pain, Her eyes- mist of tears condensing on the flesh below And her channeled muscles are cluster grapes of sorrow purple in the evening sun nearly ripe for worms
Cane, Jean Toomer, p. 14
The passage implies a distortion or lack of beauty that is still romanticized, giving the narrative a melancholic feel and possibly foreshadowing the novel’s unconventional perspectives on its other themes.
“Significance. Superstition saw
Something it had never seen before:
Brown eyes that loved without a trace of fear,
Beauty so sudden for that time of year.”
–Cane, Jean Toomer pg 7