“Men had always wanted her, this Karintha, even as a child, Karintha carrying beauty, perfect as dusk when the sun goes down. Old men rode her hobby-horse upon their knees. Young men danced with her frolics when they should have been dancing with their grown-up girls. God grant us youth, secretly prayed the old men. The young fellows counted the time to pass before she would be old enough to mate with them. This interest of the male, who wishes to ripen a growing thing too soon, could mean no good to her."
Source: Cane, Jean Toomer, “Karintha” (3-4)
“Karintha” is a very dense short story. It’s about this young girl who grows up in a town where all of the men, young and old, wish they could be with her. As Toomer described “men had always wanted her,” was to me her ultimate downfall within the story. All of this attention she was receiving from all different kinds of men we letting her believe that she was better than any other girl. Toomer compared her beauty to a sun setting over the horizon. But when I think about dusk I think about the transition from light to darkness. I got the impression that Toomer was using this as an analogy to Karintha and how she was growing up was too fast. From the “old men riding her hobby-horse” to the “young men counting the days to mate with her” lead her to forget her innocent childhood. Another important line for me was “God grant us youth.” I think this was a crucial sign that she was forgetting how to be an innocent girl because of all the attention she was receiving. All of this ties in to the last line of this particular passage, “this interest of the male, who wishes to ripen [mature] a growing thing to soon, could mean no good to her.” As a reader, I compared this to dusk, the transition from light to darkness. Light representing the innocence of Karintha and darkness representing her overlooking the innocence and growing up too soon. This innocent girl is maturing too soon. I found Toomer's use of foreshadow at the end of this passage to be useful. It allowed me to see what was going to come with Karintha and to think about that the attention she was receiving at a very young age will be her ultimate downfall as an adult woman.