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Jean ToomerRace, Repression, and Revolution$
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Barbara Foley

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780252038440

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: April 2017

DOI: 10.5406/illinois/9780252038440.001.0001

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Black and Brown Worlds Heaving Upward

Black and Brown Worlds Heaving Upward

Part 2 of Cane

(p.221) Chapter 7 Black and Brown Worlds Heaving Upward
Jean Toomer

Barbara Foley

University of Illinois Press

This chapter demonstrates how Toomer's critique of capitalist modernity comes to the fore in part 2 of Cane. Situated mostly in the nation's capital, the stories and poems here call into question the limitations of metonymic nationalism; if the liberation of the submerged masses is to occur, it will have to be part of a worldwide “heaving upward” of the underground races of the globe. Yet the exchange relation is also shown to dominate each and every human interaction; the very spaces within which modern city dwellers work, live, and revel are confined and constrained by a universal commodification that compels critical commentary. Faced with the task of representing this contradictory modern reality is the figure of the New Negro as artist.

Keywords:   Jean Toomer, capitalist modernity, Cane, metonymic nationalism, submerged masses, underground races, New Negro

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