Style and Technique

“Fern” is a poetic, symbolic story. Reflection and story line are integrally intertwined, and the reader is integrally involved. Readers, perhaps especially males, can identify with its timeless themes of relationships between men and women, the meaning of sexuality, and the proximity of religious experience to human love. By using universal questions Toomer repeatedly engages the reader in the process of defining the meaning of the story.

Imagery is powerful and effective in “Fern.” From the first paragraph, Toomer sets the stage for the climax by creating poignant religious imagery, whose intensity is heightened by Jewish symbols. Ultimately, “Fern” is not a theological statement but sociological and psychological realism that raises fundamental issues of life’s most sensitive and exciting bond, human love.


(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

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