Nellie McKay: On "November Cotton Flower"

Images of scarcity, drought, and death in the natural world of the poem parallel the oppression of race, sex, class, and economics that comprise the reality of Karintha:

 

And cotton, scarce as any southern snow,

Was vanishing; the branch, so pinched and slow,

Failed in its function as the autumn rake;

Drouth fighting soil had caused the soil to take

All water from the streams; dead birds were found

In wells a hundred feet below the ground--

 

It is a dismal landscape into which the flower blooms. The old people are startled by this omen of false spring that they know can only be a sign of greater misfortune for them all. In their superstition, they perceive in it the human dimensions of "Brown eyes that loved without a trace of fear, / Beauty so sudden for that time of Year."

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Title Nellie McKay: On "November Cotton Flower" Type of Content Criticism
Criticism Author Nellie McKay Criticism Target Jean Toomer
Criticism Type Poet Originally Posted 14 Jun 2020
Publication Status Excerpted Criticism Publication Jean Toomer: Artist—A Study of His Literary Life and Work, 1894-1936
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