I have dreams of what life should be. It is a far cry from the present state of things. For most Blacks in America, life is a distorted body of its great possibilities. The 400 years of slavery and the next 100 years of mock-freedom have made life difficult for Blacks in America. At the turn of the 19th century, times were much fiercer. African American writer Jean Toomer inspired many later Harlem Renaissance writers with his passionate and realistic portrayal of black life in the novel Cane (1923). Noted for its poetic and sensitive descriptions, Cane describes people frustrated by their conflicts with social customs and by psychological conflicts within themselves. Toomer was himself of mixed ancestry, claiming a variety of European, African, and even Native American bloodlines. As a result, Toomer long struggled with the issue of race, both personally and professionally. As a man who could successfully "pass" for white, Toomer was a reluctant spokesperson for race conscious artists who were interested in celebrating "blackness." Instead, Toomer envisioned an American identity that would transcend race. Nonetheless, concerns with racial division inform his writing, often in a very specific manner.
The short story "Blood-Burning Moon", by Jean Toomer, is a story about a black man, Tom Burwell, and a white man, Bob Stone, fighting for the affection of a black women, Louisa, during this time period. The short story depicts a night in which Tom kills Bob in a fight. Tom is then burned alive at a stake. "Blood-Burning Moon" gives some insight into the truths of that time period. Slavery did not end after the Civil War. Black women were looked at by white men with whom they were intimate as niggers in every sense of the word. Lady Justice was so far from balance that one of he scales barely existed. These ideas, however known, were reinforced by the short story.
"Blood-Burning Moon" illustrates the fact that though blacks were free under the laws of the land, they were still slaves.