Reaper

1665 Words Jul 31st, 2013 7 Pages
Reaper
The poem “Reaper” by Jean Toomer presents a theme that is quite dark, for the mood of the poem deals with the effects faced by African American slave labor during that time period. In his poem, Toomer portrays African American laborers as black reapers working like black horses mowing the field. They are able to sharpen their tools and carry their sharpening stone in their back pocket working independently in the field but are equal to machines like mowers being pulled by black horses in the field making the poem’s tone serious and dramatic. Rather than black being used only as reference for a person 's skin, it’s used more as the object of what the whole poem signifies. Toomer is trying to emphasize the strong hold African
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After reading this stanza, I think that brings up another important theme the poet is trying to address, which is of violence. A scythe is an agricultural tool that is used by farmers to plow the fields. In order to use it properly, it is first sharpened. I think by emphasizing the use of this simple tool, the poet is only trying to reiterate the intense, depressing tone of his poem. Moreover, by mentioning the word “hones” the poet is giving his reader an idea of the quality of work that is being done by these black men. They may do the same work on an everyday basis, but the sweat that they waste in doing so reflects upon their hard work and personality. This implies that their performance is for survival.
In the sixth stanza of this poem, “And there, a field rat, startled, squealing bleeds” the field rat is symbolic. The fact that it has been mortally wounded by the blade but the reaper gives it little regard because he cannot stop working and his feelings have been suppressed to the fact that he is a farm machine or animal. I thought it was interesting to apply this theory to the scenario that the poet has presented to us. During the 19th century, the time period of this poem when written, African Americans were always placed a level below whites. Instead of being considered humans, African Americans were looked down upon, as if they are animals. Therefore, in

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