Suzanne Lynch's Portrait In Georgia

Decent Essays

When referring to the race of the body described in “Portrait in Georgia,” Suzanne Lynch wrote “positioning this woman as neither black nor white, within a world so polarized by color, makes her a destabilizing force within the power dynamics of the culture… If the poem strips this Georgia woman of her wholeness and reduces her to a series of fragments, it also accounts for that effect by placing her in a social setting of violent white dominance.” In summary, Lynch’s response is attempting to convey the subject of Jean Toomer’s poem “Portrait in Georgia” is purposely not given a race, and might be a black, mixed-race, or raceless woman to make the reader acknowledge his pigeonholing: “Just in case the reader…feels an uncontrollable inclination …show more content…

Her features remind him of her direct role in racism and the physical harm that could come his way. The speaker begins by describing her hair as “braided chestnut, / coiled like a lyncher’s rope” (Toomer 1-2). Lynch concludes the subject’s braids symbolize the indelibly intertwined lives of black and whites, “‘braided’ in a common southern experience.” I consider the opposite, concluding these two lines represent the racial divide between the speaker and the subject of the poem, rather than a union. The woman’s hair is braided like a lyncher’s rope and the color of her hair, chestnut, describes a type of tree of which the rope might hang if the speaker interacted with the white woman. Similarly, and not mentioned by Lynch, the woman’s eyes are then figuratively compared to the burning of a body during a lynching, evident through Toomer’s use of “fagots,” or a bundle of sticks intended to be lit (Toomer 3). The speaker cannot admire even her most mundane features, like hair or eyes, because it reminds him of the racial division between the two. Her features compared to a tree, rope, and fire in that back-to-back manner further imply the representation of the speaker’s feasible gruesome

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