Friday, March 6, 2009

Wedges in Toomer's "Seventh Street"

In many of the stories in Toomer’s Cane, symbols are used to express important themes or ideas. “Seventh Street” is no exception. The use of “wedges” to represent the Black culture prevalent on Seventh Street is no doubt one of Toomer’s most important examples of metaphor and symbolic metonymy.

While the wood may represent the city itself, the wedge of Seventh Street splits the city – this probably refers to the ongoing racial separations that existed in the early 20th century. It is described as “crude boned” and “soft skinned,” possibly signifying a sarcastic understanding of the deeper beauty of Seventh Street and Black culture in general. Toomer writes that “wedges are brilliant in the sun,” an analogy to the literature and music produced by the African-American community. For Toomer, these art forms, when allowed to rise above the racial tensions, have the ability to escape the traditional bounds of race. However, they will rust and lose their beauty if they become stuck in the “soggy wood” of culture clash.

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