Friday, March 6, 2009

Flowing Disarray

The repeated use of "flowing", "wet", and "soggy" strikes my attention. It creates a consistent image of a river, or a flood, even, pouring through a city. But this is no ordinary river: through this city is flowing a flood of blood. The blood all over Seventh Street is of unnatural origin. It's shown to arise from the "bastard of Prohibition and War", flowing from the splintered and shattered world of Washington. We get a picture of this splintered world in the list: "shanties, brick office buildings, drug stores, restaurants, cabarets." Similar to the scene of Toomer's "Theater", the city holds a stark juxtaposition of poor and prosperous, but the river of blood flowing through blends these two together, so that the whole scene reeks of death. The flow exposes the rotten aspects of the city, the pocket-burning money, the bootleggars and the zooming Cadillacs that are at the backdrop of the scene. Toomer calls this to shame: "Who set you flowing? ...Swirling like a blood-red smoke up where the buzzards fly in heaven? Who set you flowing?"

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