“This interest of the male, who wishes to ripen a growing thing too soon, could mean no good.”

This line is found in the first chapter of Toomer’s “Cane.” It is in reference to Karintha but I think it serves as a motif for the following chapters. Or perhaps it is better viewed as a tool used to foreshadow what will occur to so many of the other girls focused on in this book.

In what other ways, besides in “Cane”, is this statement reflected in modernism, or in the culture or world events of the early 1900’s?

~Christina

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12 thoughts on “

  1. I feel like this quote is a long winded way of saying “patience is a virtue”, but I feel like modernism was mostly wanting things now and right away. New methods were formed and people could receive messages, stories, things sooner so the need for patience started to elapse some people. This can also relate back to Booker T. Washington who believe patience and time was the key to social equality.

  2. I thought that the quote meant that too many people want to grow up before their time. I thought this quote was used to describe the males who lust over Karintha but who didn’t want to wait for her to live through her childhood. All the girls (up to the point I have read) have followed a pattern of tragedy, so yes; I think the quote foreshadows the rest of the book. I think this quote could be applied to modernism and even today because people who grow up too fast usually end up getting hurt in the long run and that’s no good.
    Erika K.

    • I ALSO THOUGHT THAT THIS QUOTE WAS A WAY OF SAYING THAT GROWING UP TOO SOON IS NOT A GOOD THING. THIS IS A TIME WHEN FRUIT IS AT ITS BEST BUT ALSO THE PEAK OF ITS LIFE. IF SOMEONE IS RUSHED TO THEIR PEAK THEY MISS OUT ON THE WHOLE EXPERIENCE. THIS DOESN’T SEEM TO FORESHADOW ANYTHING TO ME. THIS BOOK SEEMS TO BE JUST A COLLECTION OF STORIES THAT ALL TAKE PLACE IN A COMMON TIME.
      – CAROLYN

  3. I agree with Erika on this one. I feel like this quotes is about growing up too fast which ties back into Modernism the way Anita said. Anita mentioned that Modernism was all about getting things now. The pace of life was speeding up; therefore, kids during that time period also would have started growing up faster. The men referred to in this quote were just following that pattern and hoping that Katrina would “ripen” faster, but as Erika also mentioned kids that grow up too fast usually burn out quickly as well and thus, “could mean no good.”

  4. Maybe it’s in reference to white men who wanted to have sex with young black girls. Or just men in general wanting to have sex with young girls. Women who have children young cant take care of them as well as they could when they are older, or they die trying to give birth. As for how it relates to other modernist works, I really don’t know. I would say it’s the same in My Antonia, but I don’t think they would have felt the same way.

    -Savanna Beach

    • If you look back at history, a lot of older men wanted to marry younger women in order to have children. Death during childbirth was common and I can also see how a younger woman would have more energy for a baby than an older woman. I will say one thing. I’m glad I’m not the only one who thought of sex when I read that quote. LOL! Savanna, you right on the money!
      Erika K.

  5. I believe Anita nailed it when she made the connection between this quote and Booker T. Washington. The two intellectuals believed that equality could not be obtained in a single effort, but rather the process needed to be extended and perfectly traveled or it would be ruined.

    ZT

  6. I may have interpreted from a masculine perspective instead of a female perspective. I saw the desire for Karintha as a dangerous thing for her — the possibility of rape, of early impregnation, of being seduced by promises, all those were dangerous for a young girl.

    -Luke

  7. Although I agree with much of what has been said – “patience is a virtue”, modernism and how it sped up the pace of life, etc. – I must admit a quote from the movie “Dazed and Confused” came into my head, spoken by the ever wise Wooderson:

    “That’s what I love about these high school girls, man. I get older, they stay the same age.”

    Men have long been fascinated with sexual fantasies involving young (or younger than themselves) girls, and I think the situation involving Karintha and her elder suitors is no different. When a female is chiefly admired for her physical traits and this evolves into sexual desire (if they are ever seperate), typically problems arise, especially so when the female is young and likely not mature enough emotionally to deal with such complicated matters.

    Andrew Doughty

  8. I totally agree with what you guys are saying…. This quote actually made me think of how perverted men really are and how they prey on young girls. But, that’s just what it made ME think about. However, Karintha did allow herself to grow up way too fast and have kids and such. It does foreshadow a little bit about what this book may be about.

  9. To me this quote is about the innocence of a child, the “ripening thing” discussed in the opening chapter. Karintha is merely a symbol meant to represent anything we as a society desire. Men lust after her and cater to her needs, but never really ask for her input or give any consideration to her opinions or her desires. We live in a society marked by a need for instant gratification; we don’t want to see the game, just the highlights. Karintha’s story is quietly very tragic to me. There is no knowing what might have been had she been allowed to ripen on her own at her own pace. It can be connected, however loosely, to the progression of America. A new nation with endless possibilities, some would say, “ripened too soon.” The land of opportunity became a land of slavery; while this land still prospered and lived a healthy life, like Karintha, the loss of purity at an early age makes you wonder what might have been had the evils of slavery never reached our shores.

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