The Movement

May 21, 2008
By Danny Brown, East Northport, NY

During the 1920’s and 30’s, African American culture and way of life greatly altered. Literature, drama, music, art and dance are major fields which were prospering during this time. Jean Toomer and Gwendolyn Brooks are two poets who expressed their feelings toward this time period through great literature. Poets wrote about the harsh and unrelenting times that they or a certain group of people experienced due to racial segregation.

Some poets use the seasons of a year to express their feelings towards a cruel subject. In the poems, “November Cotton Flower” and “The Crazy Women,” seasonal references were made throughout the writing pieces. Jean Toomer used the fall and winter time to show how African American power was at a low, flat rate. “And cotton, scarce as any southern snow, was vanishing; the branch, so pinched and slow, failed in its function as the autumn rake;” This excerpt displays the descending of pride and hope in earlier years, before the renaissance. Brooks also uses this poetic devise to exemplify the change in mood. She uses the months of May and November to draw a specific line between good and bad. The spring time was when feelings of joy and jubilee should be shown, rather than “singing” in winter. Both authors adapted the same technique to explain the rough times African American ancestors went through.

Certain words that poets use affect the mood of a poem that has been composed. “I’ll go
out in the frosty dark and sing most terribly.” This is a line from “The Crazy Women,” by which the author uses specific adjectives to describe the feelings she has. The use of the words frosty and dark can conclude that the times were evil and extremely hard to diverge from. “I'll wait until November and sing a song of gray.” Brooks applies colors as well to explain the instability of racial segregation. “Dead” and “Drouth” are words that were used in Toomer’s poems. She used these for indicating the change in time. Before the Harlem Renaissance, it was a much worse time for all African Americans. “Dead” is a good adjective to show the feelings because of its abrupt and subtle meaning. The moods of these two poems can directly relate in a way which segregation and discrimination was at its highest.

Jean Toomer and Gwendolyn Brooks are two amazing authors due to their styles of writing literature. The use of literary devises and dramatic tone is a beautiful way to describe a terrible time period. During the Harlem Renaissance, the acts of segregation were at a minimum and African American respect was inclining.

This will certify that the above work is completely original. Danny Brown

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