The Divided Life Of Jean Toomer, By Alice Walker

Decent Essays

Because society likes to have labels on class, race, and gender, it determines how one must live, particularly in the early twentieth century. This is an issue for those who are multi-ethnic and do not feel comfortable conforming to one race. Jean Toomer was part Negro, German, French, Jewish, Welsh, and Indian; he too had trouble developing a single identity with those races. Trying to find an identity in a society that categorizes, it is easy to sympathize with Toomer in his need to classify himself as an “American” as Alice Walker does in her critique considering he decided not to discuss this part Negro identity.
Walker, in her article “The Divided Life of Jean Toomer”, does not address the content of Cane and the essence that it carries in society. She more so writes about Jean Toomer and the times in which he conflictingly decided who he was. He had a tough time finding an identity and settled for saying that he was “American”. Walker notes that Toomer “decided he would say nothing of his racial identity unless asked. If asked, he would say, basically, that he was an American (Toomer-Walker 263).” In the rest of her analysis, Walker describes Toomer as this author who left this beautiful piece behind after having a slight moment of Negro revelation. This is a sympathetic moment since his work became a legacy in part of the Harlem Renaissance and he decided to remove himself from the Negro praise. It is disappointing to grasp that he joined the Quakers and missed out on

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