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Cane's Parallels with Hughes" Argument

             Schuyler and Hughes present contrasting ideas concerning the existence and importance of race. While their views are not completely opposite, they argue two differing opinions of race and its significance to the composition of art. Schuyler believes a person's environment was the main influence behind the content of his artistic expression. Hughes believes that although race was the determinate of an individual's preferences and creation of art, blacks adjust their likes and dislikes to fit the societal norms whites had established. Jean Toomer's Cane is a representation of the times in which Schuyler and Hughes debated. Cane attempts to inspire blacks to embrace their race and reveals its parallels to Hughes" argument that race has significance.
             Cane conveys to the blacks that they should not deny their roots and conform, but rather that they should celebrate their heritage. In "Song of the Sun," Toomer reflects about a way of life he feels is dying. "Song of the Son" addresses the eternal bond shared by blacks because of the existence of slavery in their pasts. "An everlasting song, a singing tree, caroling softly souls of slavery- (Toomer 14). This work in Cane expresses how Toomer was concerned that black culture was dissolving with slavery. Although slavery was drawing to an end, Toomer felt "an everlasting song" should live within the hearts of the blacks and their posterity, as a constant reminder of the pain they endured. In "The Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain," Hughes observes that blacks began to renounce their roots in order to comply with whites society's definitions of what was acceptable. He describes a black "clubwoman" who "does not want a true picture of herself from anybody. She wants the artist to flatter her, to make the white world believe that all Negroes are as smug and as near white in soul as she wants to be" (Hughes 95). She represents blacks" denial of their heritage by wanting whites to view her as close to white as possible.

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