Death of the Reapers

Jean Toomer describes farming in such a cold, dark, evil way. I think that Toomer’s point was to show that life working on the farm was terrible. Not just working on a farm, but being a slave on the farm. That can come from how he describes the equipment. Not once but twice in the poem does he use black to describe the physical charartiersic of the reaper and the horses. The poem reminds readers how salves were seen as property, much as horses and reapers are. Slave owners did not think that their salves had a purpose in life besides working on the farm. This is what the reaper is representing. The reaper’s sole purpose on the farm is to the crop. While the rat, “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”(Toomer). I believe that Toomer was trying to show how “heart less” farm working made slaves. They would stop caring for the less fortunate. This perception of the poem could also come from a line in Toomer’s, Harvest Song. Which states, “I am a reaper whose muscles set at sundown.” (Toomer).

Jean Toomer was an important figure of the Harlem Renaissance and even modernism. Often writing his poetry, short stories, and essays about African Americans. Toomer’s, “Reapers” reminds me of several poets that we have read and talked about in class. This story can be interpreted in many ways. Some people believe that the field rat represents the slave. While the reaper represents the whites allowing the slaves to be beaten and crushed to death.


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