Date of Award


Degree Type




First Advisor

Karem, Frederick

Subject Headings

Toomer, Jean, 1894-1967, Cane, Mulvey, Laura, Feminism, Feminist fiction -- History and criticism, Women's studies, Jean Toomer Cane feminism Laura Mulvey the male gaze objectification women's studies


This thesis examines Jean Toomer's Cane (1923) from a feminist perspective. Using Laura Mulvey's film theory of the "male gaze", it repurposes it and uses the theory from a literary standpoint. Throughout this thesis, many different aspects are examined including the character interaction within the stories, the use of the narrative "I" and its overarching implications, audience participation with regard to voyeurism and Toomer's paradoxical stance on the objectification of women. Toomer writes about the women in Cane in a sexually explicit fashion, but does so in order to draw attention to the gaze and criticize it. As the vignettes in Cane progress, the women--some complacent with the gaze, others even participants--gain agency and the ability to return the male gaze, culminating in a possible relationship between Kabnis and Carrie K., a relationship of equals