Cane By Jean Toomer

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The novel Cane (1923) by Jean Toomer consists of many short stories about the experiences of African Americans in the 1920s. The short story “Carma,” highlights the life of a woman who is unhappy with her marriage and is seeking freedom. In the story, the narrator suggests that females may use adultery and gossip as a path to independence. Throughout the short story, Carma is a woman unbridled with desire searching for freedom, shown by her lifestyle when her husband is away working. When she is alone, Carma lives her life with the confidence that she did not care about the perspectives others had of her, “in overalls” she is as “strong as any man” (14). Her confidence was so strong that she often made people stop what they were doing …show more content…

Throughout the story, her body sings a song that encompasses the life that she lives. The narrator linked the “sad strong song” of her body to that of others who also originate in Africa, stating, “Dixie Pike [had] grown from a goat path in Africa” (15). Carma’s “voice [was] loud” as she was heard and felt by others looking to be free and independent (14). Like Carma, the other women in the story were stuck and bound to a lifestyle that was chosen for them. Carma, along with the women were therefore left with their fragrances resembling that of “farmyards” (15) and not much more. The narrator was able to show the struggle Carma faces living in the town—the narrator described the normal everyday life of most African Americans at the time. He was able to further show why Carma chooses to act as she did by committing adultery. Carma no longer wanted to deal with her “mangrove gloomed, yellow flower face,” as she turns towards actions that betray her loved ones (14). She realizes through her life that her husband was not the problem in her life, but was rather what stood in between her and …show more content…

Bane returns home where he found the “week-old boasts” hidden in the “sweet-gum leaves” and confronts Carma about her actions (15). Carma denies that she did anything, but turns “hysterical” showing Bane that she did not care if he knows. As she ran with the gun, Bane was hesitant to follow. The connection between Bane and Carma was desolate and empty at this point in the story, because despite hearing a gunshot, Bane did not come to Carma’s aid immediately. Instead, he chose to give her time to calm down and move past her actions. The narrator references how “time and space have no meaning in a canefield,” therefore the anger Carma had built up would not go away so easily (16). Carma betrays Bane once by sleeping with others, and again when she fakes her own suicide. She pushes her husband to the limit, causing him to go mad and commit murder. For all the days he was absent from her life, Carma saw it fit that her husband ends up in a gang. She did not want him to suffer, but it was the only way for him to no longer stand in the way of her freedom. The narrator implies “its her fault he got there,” signifying Carma was to blame. Carma wants to be free as “God has left the Moses-people” for Carma and those like her (14). God, like he did for the Moses-people was present to find a way to free Carma so she could live the way that she wants to. The narrator asked whether or

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