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Saturday, March 20, 2010

A Race Analysis of “the Other” in Jean Toomer’s “Fern”

In reading Donald Hall’s chapter on Postcolonial Theory and Race Analysis from his book Literary and Cultural Theory, I was most intrigued by the issue of “the other” in doing a race or postcolonial analysis of a text. Making the distinction between the majority and the minority is fundamental in doing a race analysis of a text. After reading the chapter, it was easy to see that elements of race permeate the text of “Fern”, especially the distinction between the whites and the other (African Americans).One such distinction is made in the men’s obsession, or lack of obsession with Fern, a beautiful young African American woman. Black men thought she was so beautiful because “A young negro was looking at her spellbound from the road” (17), but white men did not feel the same because “They let her alone” (17). White men make the distinction between the races by not feeling attraction to Fern because of her race. As an African American she is part of “the other” in a white-dominated society; therefore, they will have nothing to do with her even though she is beautiful.

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