“And all the while the Gardens were purple like a bed of roses would be at dusk. I came back to tell you, brother, that white faces are petals of roses. That dark faces are petals of dusk. That I am going out and gather petals. That I am going out and know her whom I brought here with me to these Gardens which are purple like a bed of roses would be at dusk.”

Toomer, Jean. “Bona and Paul.” Cane. New York: Liveright, 2011. 107. Print.

In this excerpt, the Gardens stand out to me as a religious aspect. I also really like the repetition and emphasis on “the Gardens were purple like a bed of roses would be at dusk.”


“Dorris dances. She forgets her tricks. She dances
Glorious songs are the muscles of her limbs.
And her singing is of canebrake loves and mangrove feastings.
The walls press in, singing. Flesh of a throbbing body, they press close to John and Dorris. They close them in. John’s heart beats tensely against her dancing body. Walls press his mind within his heart. And then, the shaft of light goes out the window high above him. John’s mind sweeps up to follow it. Mind pulls him upward into dream.                     Dorris dances…”

Toomer, Jean. “Theater.” Cane. New York: Liveright, 2011. 71. Print.

This moment between Dorris and John is connected to other moments in the text through its motif of the “canebrake” and the “mangrove.” In particular, the “canebrake” connects Dorris to the character of Louisa in “Blood-Burning Moon” and highlights their common relationships to white men in positions of power.

Cane – Kabnis

“White folks feed it cause their looks are words. Niggers, black niggers feed it cause theyre evil an their looks are words. Yallar niggers feed it. This whole damn bloated purple country feeds it cause its goin down t hell in a holy avalanche of words. I want t feed th soul – I know what that is; th preachers don’t – but I’ve got t feed it. I wish t God some lynchin white man ud stick his knife through it an pin it to a tree. Am pin it to a tree. You hear me? That’s a wish f y, you little snot-nosed pups who’ve been makin fun of me, an fakin that I’m weak. Me, Ralph Kabnis weak. Ha.” (152)

Toomer, Jean. “Kabnis.” Cane. New York: Liveright, 2011. 152. Print.


“Ralph Kabnis, propped on his bed, tries to read. To read himself to sleep. An oil lamp on a hair near his elbow burns unsteadily. The cabin room is spaced fantastically about it. Whitewashed hearth and chimney, black with sooty saw-teeth.”

Toomer, Jean. “Kabnis.” Cane. New York: Liveright, 2011. 111. Print.

Ralph tries “to read himself to sleep” to immerse himself in a story that is not his own. The unsteadily burning lamp is like his life, and his mind, always on edge. He recognizes that his room is whitewashed physically, as his society is whitewashed with white people in charge. His own life is tainted with “black… sooty-saw teeth.” Even he perceives blackness as being bad. This says a lot about how his mind has been whitewashed.

Cane Commonplace

“The chill air is a shock to Paul. A strange thing happens. He sees the Gardens purple, as if he were way off. And a spot is in the purple. The spot comes furiously towards him. Face of the black man. It leers. It smiles sweetly like a child’s.”

The “Garden” could be a metaphor for the Garden of Eden, continuing the evocation of God-language/imagery throughout the text. Paul is seeing the Garden “as if he were way off” turning this scene into an epiphany-like experience, or as if he were viewing it from above, like God would.

Toomer, Jean. “Bona and Paul.” Cane. New York: Liveright, 2011. 106. Print.