In his analysis of Cane, William Ramsey fixates on the significance of Toomer’s dual perspective on the South and how that affects the deep southern religion and culture visualized in Cane. Ramsey discusses that Toomer is both an outsider and an insider when it comes to the South; he possesses familial roots within southern states like Georgia and Louisiana. So, despite spending little of his life living there, he is not a stranger to the “Black South.” Ramsey pinpoints Toomer’s dual-perspective as the reason for the “two Souths” presented in Cane: the “temporal” South and the “eternal” South. Ramsey acknowledges that Toomer’s position is unique and significant to the reading of Cane.

Ramsey highlights the points Toomer makes about religion in the Black South. He argues that Toomer aligned himself with this community for their rejection of the “spiritual vacuity of modernism,” which Toomer found to be stifling compared to the transcendent southern Black folk culture. Toomer believed the “temporal” South was the history of oppression and stagnation while the “eternal” South was the everlasting culture that ascended past oppressive social mores. Ramsey writes about how Toomer admired the black southern communities for embodying this “eternal” South and resisting oppression while remaining full of life. On the other hand, Ramsey notes that Toomer did take issue with the black church which he believed was corrupted by white theology and was leading those in the community to repress themselves.

Ramsey, William M. “Jean Toomer’s eternal South.” The Southern Literary Journal 36, no. 1 (2003): 74-89. Gale Literature Resource Center (accessed February 28, 2020).