"Men are apt to idolize or fear that which they cannot understand, especially if it be a woman (16)."
A look at Toomer's Fern reveals a slanted approach to love. This love takes the form of a misguided infatuation, the sort most mothers warn their sons to avoid: "They became attached to her...(16)." It is our narrator who sets the stage and informs us that the men who find themselves head-over-heels for Fern, despite being put out by her, vow to do "some fine thing for her" all the while not letting her no it is them. Yet despite this seeming foolishness there is a hint of romanticism, for these calculated acts (sending her candy, a "magnificent something" for her wedding, buying a house and deed, etc.) are not to win her favor but to simply venerate her. Same goes for the gentleman in town "who'd set themselves up to protect her". This romanticism that surrounds Fern denotes some sort of chivalry in which these men feel that they must protect this damsel who is not necessarily in distress.