Sunday, February 22, 2009
Motion vs. Stillness
Toomer’s Theater presents a binary between motion and stillness. Motion is privileged because it drives the action of the story and causes John and Dorris to develop affections for each other. Dance is a major catalyst for the action in Theater. John comes to witness a dance rehearsal and Dorris attempt to communicate her attraction to John through dance. As Toomer describes the action he remarks, “[John] is seated in the center of the theater [to watch] rehearsal…chorus girls drift in …listening to them singing he wants to stamp his feet and shout” (52). John is motivated to attend the rehearsal because of the dancing women. While remaining still he does not have thoughts about the girls unless they are moving and presenting their dance skills. Dorris uses dance to communicate her feelings for John. When she dances it prompts both her and John to think about each other, continuing the action of the story and privileging motion over stillness. Toomer states, “ Dorris dances…[her] eyes burn across the space of seats to [John] …The walls press in…they press close to John and Dorris John’s heart beats against her dancing body”(54-55). This explains that Dorris uses dance to communicate her feelings for John. Her dancing creates physical reactions in John that cause him to desire her more. Even though motion initiates much of the action of Theater, stillness asserts dominance in the binary as well. As a result of social norms both John and Dorris are reluctant to initiate a relationship, remaining still in their efforts.