How is the theme of the poem "Reapers" by Jean Toomer developed (diction, tone and rhythm?)

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thanatassa | College Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

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The poem “Reapers”, by Jean Toomer, consists of four heroic couplets. The first two couplets describe reaping by hand and the second two a reaping machine. The rhyme scheme highlights the thematic shift between the two sections, especially by the way that a full end stop only occurs after the fourth line, marking the transition to the mechanical section. The theme of the human vs. mechanical labour, and the way machines distance people from nature, is enhanced by the way the writer uses alliteration to emphasize the parallelisms between the tow sections. The formal, elegant, and impersonal diction makes the death of the rat even more shocking, emphasizing the impersonal cruelty of the driven mower.


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