Sunday, March 21, 2010
Racism in "Fern" by Jean Toomer
It is interesting that within the poem/short story by Toomer, there is such a large amount of racially associated references, metaphors, and specific words. After describing how men mistake Fern for be easy, the narrator states, "That the sexes were made to mate is the practice of the South. Particularly, black folks were made to mate. And it is black folks who I have been talking about thus far. What white men thought of Fern I can arrive at only by analogy. They let her alone" (Toomer 17). This statement is particularly intriguing because it makes reference to old slave practices of the South, where slaveholders would choose and buy slaves based upon their physiology for labor and reproductive capabilities. Mentioning this within the story seems to play on the fact that blacks of the South have retained some of the original qualities for which they were first chosen by to live in the area. Although it keeps the white man separate, as the last couple sentences of the previous passage indicate, there is still a clear overlap of culture.