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Reapers Analysis



Author: poem of Jean Toomer Type: poem Views: 43


Black reapers with the sound of steel on stones
Are sharpening scythes. I see them place the hones
In their hip-pockets as a thing that's done,
And start their silent swinging, one by one.
Black horses drive a mower through the weeds,
And there, a field rat, startled, squealing bleeds,
His belly close to ground. I see the blade,
Blood-stained, continue cutting weeds and shade.


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||| Analysis | Critique | Overview Below |||




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what does \"shade\" represent in the eighth stanza??

| Posted on 2011-03-07 | by a guest


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.� The connotation is different this time. The black horses almost seem to be pulling a hearse. Of course, they are pulling a mower. This mower represents an uncaring, lackadaisical, new worker. Unlike the workers before it, the mower can cut multiple weeds at a time. The machine is so efficient

| Posted on 2011-02-04 | by a guest


.: :.

When I initially read the poem I had thought that the word black in the phrase, “black reapers with the sound… are sharpening scythes.” (Pg. 62) was a descriptive word for the color physical characteristics of an item, rather than black being used as a term for African Americans. Once this realization that this was what the word meant, the poem became increasingly clearer. The author uses the word black two times in his poem, once when describing the reapers and again when describing the horse. The inference that I received from the usage of the word black in both instances is that the author is saying that the black reapers were viewed as objects or possessions, just like one would view a horse as property. That their sole purpose was not to be happy or live their life but they were put on this earth to fulfill a goal of plowing the fields. In the eyes of a farm owner, they were no better than a horse and were dehumanized as such.
The poem is describing the life of a black reaper and the disconnection from it’s job due to its monotony. It talks about the repetitious and unceremonial task of sharpening the scythe blade and plowing the field. When reading the poem I felt as though this was just how the situation is; the bleakness of the black reapers life and the inability to escape or change it, the inescapable quality of it all. Due to the inability to escape the role that the black reaper plays, the role dehumanizes him. For example, “And there, a field rat, startled, squealing bleeds, his belly close to the ground. I see the blade, blood-stained, continue cutting weeds and shade.” (pg. 62) The reaper knows and has seen what his blade has done but he continues as if nothing happened because he has become disconnected from it all and therefore has lost the ability to care about those less fortunate. They are no longer seen as casualties of the act, rather their passing and their subsequent existence is not even acknowledged.
One can draw from the poem that the field rat may be being used as an analogy to the treatment of African Americans. That society will step all over them without ever acknowledging that they are alive, they can bleed, and they can feel pain. Therefore, since human beings are creatures who learn and are creatures of habit, in general, they will tend to engage in actions similar to what has been done to them. Since the African Americans have been trod on for so long, they have learned that this is how one acts to those whom are inferior. Hence, the lack of empathy for the plight of the field mouse on the part of the black reaper.
In the poem, the author who witnesses this act is merely an observer. He doesn’t exhibit any remorse for the death of the field rat or for the loss of the reaper’s humanity. He merely reports what he sees and leaves it up to the reader to interpret the situation as they see fit.
Another important theme in the poem is the stark inevitability of life. Toomer writes his poem with a matter-of-fact quality that doesn’t give room for discussion. He states the fact that there will always be victims whose squealing goes unheard. One can relate this to the feelings held by slaves. One can infer that due to the feelings that slave owners held, with regards to the value of a slave’s life, slaves saw no point in crying out for mercy, their pleads went unheard just as the rat’s cry fell on deaf ears.
Another key aspect of the poem, for me, was the word choice in the poem. When writing the poem “Reapers”, Jean Toomer chose to call the animal in the field a “field rat” instead of a “field mouse”. This decision may be attributed to the language at the time, however, I don’t believe that that is the reason. My belief is that when one hears the word “rat”, there is a negative stigma attached to it. However, if one hears the word mouse, one denotes a more compassionate emotion. For example, if I am told that there is a rat in the house, my mind conjures the image of a large body, long teeth, sharp claws and a whip-like tail. Due to this image, my instant emotional reaction is one of fear and disgust. How is one to handle a rat in the house with those images engrained in their mind? My gut reaction is to kill it. However, if one says that there is a mouse in the house; my mind conjures images of a small-bodied, cute, and innocent creature. My emotional reaction is “aw, poor thing” and my actions would parallel my reaction. It is my belief that Jean Toomer, intentionally used the word “rat” to convey society’s feelings regarding slaves. They were not seen as helpless creatures, which merit compassion and sympathy, but rather as a creature whose mere existence is to disgust and therefore are condemned to a life of injustice and misunderstanding from birth.
In conclusion, the poem “Reapers” is one of my favorites because there is a surprising amount of depth to the poem that one can read as simply straightforward. It does not use colorful words or elaborate phrases to elicit the reader’s response, instead it presents the reader with an instance and asks the reader to interpret it as he will. The poem does not preach about the treatment of others rather it asks the reader to derive meaning themselves. I really like that a lot.

| Posted on 2010-05-08 | by a guest


.: :.

Black reapers with the sound of steel on stones
Are sharpening scythes. I see them place the hones
In their hip-pockets as a thing that's done,
And start their silent swinging, one by one.
Black horses drive a mower through the weeds,
And there, a field rat, startled, squealing bleeds,
His belly close to ground. I see the blade,
Blood-stained, continue cutting weeds and shade.

| Posted on 2010-02-21 | by a guest


.: :.

You missed the racial issues that are the underlying core of this poem. Two words: Harlem Renaissance.

| Posted on 2009-12-17 | by a guest


.: :.

The dark yet beautiful poem, “Reapers,” presents a theme that only Jean Toomer could deliver. Each line is so intertwined that every word seems to be just another string of spider’s web. He shows that the shift from manual labor to industrial farms is going to be a tough, dark, harsh road. This one stanza poem can be divided into three parts: the whole, the first half, and the second half.
As a whole, “Reapers” presents the inevitable shift from man-power to industrialized farms. The workers in the first lines of the poem have no fault that they know of. The men work as proficiently as possible. They “silently swing” their blades, leaving the peace undisturbed. “One by one” the weeds fall as their “sharpened” scythes cut through the grass. There is no work that is more gratifying and fruitful as hard labor. The work, though hard, brings them a sort of dignity that can only be found doing difficult work. The use of alliteration presents careful, near silent work. The speaker who is watching the affair sounds calmed by the sights and sounds of the working reapers.
Then, exactly half way through the poem, the men are replaced. They are replaced with a machine. This mower has no heart. There is no dignity in it. It brings noise and chaos to the field, “startling” and slicing a field mouse. As the mouse “squeals” and “bleeds,” the mower moves on, the blood from the vermin still fresh on the blade. The mower does not care; the black horses that pull the mower are unaware of the mouse’s agony. There is no compassion or care for anything except getting the job done. This use of alliteration presents chaos. The speaker is in dismay from the shattering of the peace.
“Reapers,” though only one stanza and eight lines long, can be divided perfectly into two parts. The poem starts with the word “black.” The connotation behind this word has always been strong. It could be seen as the color of sin, fear, or despair. In this case, however, it refers to the men in the field. The implied meaning of “black” is shown in a good light: hardworking, thorough, and dignified. The AABB rhyme scheme gives the first and second set of lines a feel of completion.
The first four lines are a complete chapter of the eight-line poem. The words themselves seem to individually tell a story. Yet, the final line, “And start their silent swinging, one by one” ends the first part of the poem. This line paints the picture of the reapers working and then being overcome by black horses. Not only does this line end the first section, it also ends the AABB rhyme scheme.
The last half of the poem, like the first, begins with the word “Black.” The connotation is different this time. The black horses almost seem to be pulling a hearse. Of course, they are pulling a mower. This mower represents an uncaring, lackadaisical, new worker. Unlike the workers before it, the mower can cut multiple weeds at a time. The machine is so efficient that it not only destroys the weeds, but whatever lies beneath. This action destroys the peaceful harmony and brings forth the only unnatural noise mentioned in the poem. The mower commits murder but does not care. It just continues doing its job, despite the fact that the field rat that is lacking half its body. Unlike the workers who just cut what they needed, the mower cuts not only “weeds” but the “shade” that other creatures, like the field rat, need.
The theme that “Reapers” presents comes from the word “black.” The emphasis on this word is obvious. It starts each half of the poem. Toomer uses two different connotations of the word to divide the poem into good and evil. In this poem evil prevails. This provides both the reader and the speaker with a feeling of despair.

| Posted on 2009-03-21 | by a guest


.: :.

The dark yet beautiful poem, “Reapers,” presents a theme that only Jean Toomer could deliver. Each line is so intertwined that every word seems to be just another string of spider’s web. He shows that the shift from manual labor to industrial farms is going to be a tough, dark, harsh road. This one stanza poem can be divided into three parts: the whole, the first half, and the second half.
As a whole, “Reapers” presents the inevitable shift from man-power to industrialized farms. The workers in the first lines of the poem have no fault that they know of. The men work as proficiently as possible. They “silently swing” their blades, leaving the peace undisturbed. “One by one” the weeds fall as their “sharpened” scythes cut through the grass. There is no work that is more gratifying and fruitful as hard labor. The work, though hard, brings them a sort of dignity that can only be found doing difficult work. The use of alliteration presents careful, near silent work. The speaker who is watching the affair sounds calmed by the sights and sounds of the working reapers.
Then, exactly half way through the poem, the men are replaced. They are replaced with a machine. This mower has no heart. There is no dignity in it. It brings noise and chaos to the field, “startling” and slicing a field mouse. As the mouse “squeals” and “bleeds,” the mower moves on, the blood from the vermin still fresh on the blade. The mower does not care; the black horses that pull the mower are unaware of the mouse’s agony. There is no compassion or care for anything except getting the job done. This use of alliteration presents chaos. The speaker is in dismay from the shattering of the peace.
“Reapers,” though only one stanza and eight lines long, can be divided perfectly into two parts. The poem starts with the word “black.” The connotation behind this word has always been strong. It could be seen as the color of sin, fear, or despair. In this case, however, it refers to the men in the field. The implied meaning of “black” is shown in a good light: hardworking, thorough, and dignified. The AABB rhyme scheme gives the first and second set of lines a feel of completion.
The first four lines are a complete chapter of the eight-line poem. The words themselves seem to individually tell a story. Yet, the final line, “And start their silent swinging, one by one” ends the first part of the poem. This line paints the picture of the reapers working and then being overcome by black horses. Not only does this line end the first section, it also ends the AABB rhyme scheme.
The last half of the poem, like the first, begins with the word “Black.” The connotation is different this time. The black horses almost seem to be pulling a hearse. Of course, they are pulling a mower. This mower represents an uncaring, lackadaisical, new worker. Unlike the workers before it, the mower can cut multiple weeds at a time. The machine is so efficient that it not only destroys the weeds, but whatever lies beneath. This action destroys the peaceful harmony and brings forth the only unnatural noise mentioned in the poem. The mower commits murder but does not care. It just continues doing its job, despite the fact that the field rat that is lacking half its body. Unlike the workers who just cut what they needed, the mower cuts not only “weeds” but the “shade” that other creatures, like the field rat, need.
The theme that “Reapers” presents comes from the word “black.” The emphasis on this word is obvious. It starts each half of the poem. Toomer uses two different connotations of the word to divide the poem into good and evil. In this poem evil prevails. This provides both the reader and the speaker with a feeling of despair.
nthrower

| Posted on 2008-12-15 | by a guest


.: :.

The dark yet beautiful poem, “Reapers,” presents a theme that only Jean Toomer could deliver. Each line is so intertwined that every word seems to be just another string of spider’s web. He shows that the shift from manual labor to industrial farms is going to be a tough, dark, harsh road. This one stanza poem can be divided into three parts: the whole, the first half, and the second half.
As a whole, “Reapers” presents the inevitable shift from man-power to industrialized farms. The workers in the first lines of the poem have no fault that they know of. The men work as proficiently as possible. They “silently swing” their blades, leaving the peace undisturbed. “One by one” the weeds fall as their “sharpened” scythes cut through the grass. There is no work that is more gratifying and fruitful as hard labor. The work, though hard, brings them a sort of dignity that can only be found doing difficult work. The use of alliteration presents careful, near silent work. The speaker who is watching the affair sounds calmed by the sights and sounds of the working reapers.
Then, exactly half way through the poem, the men are replaced. They are replaced with a machine. This mower has no heart. There is no dignity in it. It brings noise and chaos to the field, “startling” and slicing a field mouse. As the mouse “squeals” and “bleeds,” the mower moves on, the blood from the vermin still fresh on the blade. The mower does not care; the black horses that pull the mower are unaware of the mouse’s agony. There is no compassion or care for anything except getting the job done. This use of alliteration presents chaos. The speaker is in dismay from the shattering of the peace.
“Reapers,” though only one stanza and eight lines long, can be divided perfectly into two parts. The poem starts with the word “black.” The connotation behind this word has always been strong. It could be seen as the color of sin, fear, or despair. In this case, however, it refers to the men in the field. The implied meaning of “black” is shown in a good light: hardworking, thorough, and dignified. The AABB rhyme scheme gives the first and second set of lines a feel of completion.
The first four lines are a complete chapter of the eight-line poem. The words themselves seem to individually tell a story. Yet, the final line, “And start their silent swinging, one by one” ends the first part of the poem. This line paints the picture of the reapers working and then being overcome by black horses. Not only does this line end the first section, it also ends the AABB rhyme scheme.
The last half of the poem, like the first, begins with the word “Black.” The connotation is different this time. The black horses almost seem to be pulling a hearse. Of course, they are pulling a mower. This mower represents an uncaring, lackadaisical, new worker. Unlike the workers before it, the mower can cut multiple weeds at a time. The machine is so efficient that it not only destroys the weeds, but whatever lies beneath. This action destroys the peaceful harmony and brings forth the only unnatural noise mentioned in the poem. The mower commits murder but does not care. It just continues doing its job, despite the fact that the field rat that is lacking half its body. Unlike the workers who just cut what they needed, the mower cuts not only “weeds” but the “shade” that other creatures, like the field rat, need.
The theme that “Reapers” presents comes from the word “black.” The emphasis on this word is obvious. It starts each half of the poem. Toomer uses two different connotations of the word to divide the poem into good and evil. In this poem evil prevails. This provides both the reader and the speaker with a feeling of despair.

| Posted on 2008-12-15 | by a guest




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