Jean Toomer's Poem Reaper

443 Words2 Pages
Change is frightening to some, but inevitable to all. The United States of America once used slaves as labor. The outlawing of this was heavily opposed but the nation turned out fine. America once used children as labor and ignored working conditions. The illegality of this was also opposed in fear of ruining the economy. The nation prospered nonetheless. Jean Toomer evaluates a different kind of change in his poem “Reaper”. This poem looks at machines vs. the humans it replaces. Toomer clearly writes in support of humanity and against the change occurring. He unsuccessfully uses this poem to reinforce his opinion with humanizing details and contrastingly dark graphics. Any praise of the human field workers is very subtle. Toomer is very descriptive…show more content…
Rhetorically, rats are very negative. Here, Toomer seems to use them to provoke ethos. He could’ve used a dog or a cat that happened to be in the field, but instead chose an animal most people in 1923 wanted dead in any manner. Regardless, the “squealing bleeds” and “Blood-stained” blade (ll. 6-7) provide a dark graphic that would make anyone feel sorry for the rat and hate the machine. The animal was simply the wrong choice. Again, this reveals a logical fallacy. Nowhere does the author provide evidence that the field workers wouldn’t kill a rat. Realistically, any one of those workers would gladly kill one hundred rats. Toomer disregards this and uses the bloody image as an attack despite logic. Jean Toomer does not separate this poem into two halves, ignoring the contrasting nature of the poem. If anything, he creates parallelism by making the reapers and the horses black. This dilutes the difference between human labor and machines. It goes against the overall message of the poem. Toomer could’ve made the mower much more brutal and terrifying, but he didn’t. He could’ve actually praised the reapers but instead chose to include the most monotonous details possible. In reality, this topic of machines vs. man is as polarizing as child labor and slavery. Jean Toomer didn’t write the poem with this

More about Jean Toomer's Poem Reaper

Open Document