Jean Toomer

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"I am of no particular race. I am of the human race, a man at large in the human world, preparing a new race."(Wagner) These are the famous words of Jean Toomer, a writer and philosopher. Toomer's life was consumed by an undying search for spiritual wholeness. He hated for things to be categorized and separated because of the certain characteristics of this group or item. His whole life was driven at being different from everyone else. He wrote poetry, novels, and short stories; and through his life he faced many trials and tribulations.(McKay)

Nathan Eugene Toomer was born December 26, 1894, in Pennsylvania, to Nathan Toomer and Nina Pinchback. Nathan Toomer, Jean's father, was twenty-seven years-older than Nina Pinchback, and Nina's father, P.B.S. Pinchback, believed that he was not a suitable husband for his daughter. He believed Nathan Toomer was unreliable and an unscrupulous businessman; however, Pinchback did not prevent the marriage of his daughter to this man. Three months after the wedding Nathan Toomer left pregnant bride and did not return until three days before the birth of his son, Nathan Pinchback Toomer.

Six weeks after his birth Toomer left again for several months and then returned; finally, in October 1895 he disappeared for good leaving Nina and his son without financial support. This caused Nina to move back to Washington D.C. and live with her parents in 1896. Her father was a strong political figure in the Reconstruction era, so they had the money to support them. They lived there from 1896 to 1906, and perhaps to escape the conflicts between her parents and her; she remarried. They moved to Brooklyn and then to New Rochelle; it was here that Jean found the library and his love for reading.

He also loved the outdoors because it gave him solitude. Jean enjoyed craving, bicycling, swimming, fishing, and sailing. It was in a sailboat that his stepfather gave him that he would go out and explore the waters, and he recalls these times in a lot of his writings.(Bloom & Smith)In 1909, Nina Pinchback died suddenly from complications following an appendectomy; soon after, Toomer returned to Washington D.C. to live with the Pinchbacks. His grandparents had under gone some huge changes since he had last lived there; they suffered from financial problems, so they moved from their up-town mansion into a middle-class section of town.

In 1910, for the first time in Jean Toomer's life, he found himself living in close contact with significant numbers of black people, but for him this was a joy and he took full advantage of the experience. While here he attended the M Street High School, which is one of the most famous black secondary schools in the country, and he did very well. In the following year or so he was tormented by sexual anxieties that left him emotionally drained also he and his grandfather were in constant struggles about money. After graduating from high school, Toomer had several months to contemplate his college career.

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