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Sunday, March 21, 2010

Empowerment in Toomer's "Fern"

Much like the narrator is trying to help Fern find her lost racial and spiritual identification, Toomer’s venture through the south may have been to accomplish relatively the same thing. Although much of racial reading seems to be about “oppressor and oppressed” relationships, I think that Toomer is attempting to empower the southern black person by helping reclaim an identification. After much oppression, which was continued through the original publishing date of Cane, Toomer, being a northern black man, came to the conclusion that racial similarity and identification with the Southern black man was unrecognizable. Throughout Fern there are many references to “loss”, “mystery”, and “sorrow”. The narrator tries to rectify all three. The reader begins to sense that the narrator fells as though he owes it to Fern to help her rediscover her identity, he describes it as “Something I would do for he. (19)” However, “Nothing ever really happened. (19)” The narrator learns nothing more than what he already knew. Toomer feels the same way. By being a nearly un-oppressed northern black man, he feels he owes it to his southern kin to help gain identity and soul. Much like the narrator however, Toomer discovers through trying to empower the Southern black man, the only thing they have in common any longer is a name.

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