Heavy Loads: Cane and the Burden of Discrimination: [Essay Example], 961 words GradesFixer
exit-popup-close

Haven't found the right essay?

Get an expert to write your essay!

exit-popup-print

Professional writers and researchers

exit-popup-quotes

Sources and citation are provided

exit-popup-clock

3 hour delivery

exit-popup-persone
close
This essay has been submitted by a student. This is not an example of the work written by professional essay writers.

Heavy Loads: Cane and the Burden of Discrimination

Download Print

Pssst… we can write an original essay just for you.

Any subject. Any type of essay.

We’ll even meet a 3-hour deadline.

Get your price

121 writers online

blank-ico
Download PDF

Jean Toomer, in his novel Cane, compiles issues that plague the black community of the United States through the lens of characters who struggle with conflicts that arise because of racism in both the North and the South. These issues include grappling with masculinity, femininity, and gender roles, being biracial and not fitting into one solid community, and having dreams that are out of reach due to the oppressive white power structure in America. One story in particular in Cane that exposes the deeply painful effects that racial oppression and violence have on black Americans is Toomer’s “Kabnis.” Through Kabnis, an educated black male character who feels as if he cannot reach his dreams or rise to his full potential due to racial violence in the South, Jean Toomer sheds light on the consistently oppressive white power system in the United States that does not allow black people to rise to equality, even as they become scholars and artists.

Kabnis’ dilemma provides an example to what might—in the words of Langston Hughes—happen “to a dream deferred,” as Kabnis begins to lose his wits due to his inability to explore the beauty of the world, which is his true desire. As an educated black man from the North, Kabnis faces a difficult time in the South finding beauty that he longs for in the world. Amongst lynchings and racial oppression in the South, Kabnis is tormented by his desire for beauty and knowledge. He states, “There is a radiant beauty in the night that touches and . . . tortures me . . . What’s beauty anyway but ugliness if it hurts you?” (Toomer, 114). Also, Kabnis is biracial, which means he undergoes prejudices from both whites and blacks in the South. Kabnis’ inability to fully identify with one racial group makes him an outsider, and causes him to experience both loneliness and extreme paranoia. While Kabnis is discussing racial violence in his county with two other highly educated black men, someone throws a rock in the window with a note that reads, “You northern . . . its time fer y t leave. Git along now” (124). Kabnis assumes that the note is from whites, and fears for his life. When he later finds that black people threw the stone, he is astonished and confused. Because slavery, segregation, and racial oppression at the hands of white America has created such a divide between whites and blacks, Kabnis, as a biracial man, is not wanted by whites in the South nor blacks. This dilemma caused Kabnis to feel deeply lonely and frightened.

Kabnis turns to drinking to calm his nerves due to the constant fear he lives in, and the lack of beauty in the world that he longs for and cannot reach. Because Kabnis is found drinking during the day, which is taboo in the South, Kabnis is fired from his teaching job by a black man named Hansby, who believes that the black community must uphold the highest moral standards in order to rise to equality. Hansby represents a black individual with internalized racism, as he is a character who believes that blacks must perform exquisite behavior if they are to be considered equal to whites. In “Kabnis,” however, Jean Toomer introduces a very old black man who is blind, deaf, a former slaves, and reveals a truth about sin in the United States. When the old former slave mumbles the word, “sin,” Kabnis yells back at him, “Shut up. What do you know about sin, you old black bastard,” implying that he is fed up with being confronted for committing sins such as drinking during the day (158). But the old man eventually states, “Th sin whats fixed . . . upon th white folks . . . f tellin Jesus—lies. Oh th sin th white folks’ mitted when they made the Bible lie” (159). Through the words of this old black man, Toomer exposes the hypocrisy that white people possess for using the Bible to defend slavery, and under Jesus’s name—a man whose teachings were supposedly rooted in being kind to all and loving all people—upholding slavery in the name of Christianity. Also, one might take from this old former slave’s words that no sin committed by a black man is greater than the enslavement of an entire race, and white people causing such race to live in fear and under constant oppression long after slavery is abolished. Kabnis displays an immense amount of anger and frustration to the old, deaf and blind former slave in the story. Kabnis calls the former slave a dead man, a fool, and states that he doesn’t care about the poor man’s predicament. Kabnis’ behavior can be explained by the fact that if Kabnis cannot find the beauty he desires to see in the world, expand his education, and be at peace, he might end up in the same situation as the former slave.

The reality that an educated black man from northern America feels just as trapped and broken down as a former slave displays that the white power structure in America is refusing to budge—keeping black Americans down and hindering their opportunities with segregation and brutal racial violence. Langston Hughes, in his poem “A Dream Deferred,” asks “What happens to a dream deferred?” Kabnis’ deferred dream might cause him to end up in a dark place similar to the predicament of the former slave. All of the characters in Jean Toomer’s Cane face the consequences of their deferred dreams, some festering like sores, some stinking like rotten meat, but all weighing down like heavy loads on these embattled representations of African Americans.

Works Cited

Toomer, Jean. Cane. 1923. New York: Liveright Publishing Corporation, 2011. Print.

Remember: This is just a sample from a fellow student.

Your time is important. Let us write you an essay from scratch

100% plagiarism free

Sources and citations are provided

Find Free Essays

We provide you with original essay samples, perfect formatting and styling

Cite this Essay

To export a reference to this article please select a referencing style below:

Heavy Loads: Cane and the Burden of Discrimination. (2018, Jun 06). GradesFixer. Retrieved January 22, 2021, from https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/heavy-loads-cane-and-the-burden-of-discrimination/
“Heavy Loads: Cane and the Burden of Discrimination.” GradesFixer, 06 Jun. 2018, gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/heavy-loads-cane-and-the-burden-of-discrimination/
Heavy Loads: Cane and the Burden of Discrimination. [online]. Available at: <https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/heavy-loads-cane-and-the-burden-of-discrimination/> [Accessed 22 Jan. 2021].
Heavy Loads: Cane and the Burden of Discrimination [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2018 Jun 06 [cited 2021 Jan 22]. Available from: https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/heavy-loads-cane-and-the-burden-of-discrimination/
copy to clipboard
close

Sorry, copying is not allowed on our website. If you’d like this or any other sample, we’ll happily email it to you.

    By clicking “Send”, you agree to our Terms of service and Privacy statement. We will occasionally send you account related emails.

    close

    Attention! this essay is not unique. You can get 100% plagiarism FREE essay in 30sec

    Recieve 100% plagiarism-Free paper just for 4.99$ on email
    get unique paper
    *Public papers are open and may contain not unique content
    download public sample
    close

    Sorry, we cannot unicalize this essay. You can order Unique paper and our professionals Rewrite it for you

    close

    Thanks!

    Your essay sample has been sent.

    Want us to write one just for you? We can custom edit this essay into an original, 100% plagiarism free essay.

    thanks-icon Order now
    boy

    Hi there!

    Are you interested in getting a customized paper?

    Check it out!
    Having trouble finding the perfect essay? We’ve got you covered. Hire a writer

    GradesFixer.com uses cookies. By continuing we’ll assume you board with our cookie policy.