Tuesday, February 1, 2011


"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." (Karintha)

This passage brought about some mixed feelings in my case. My first reaction was one of shock to see that males were being portrayed in such a negative manner, but I also tried to look at the other side and put myself in her shoes. In Karintha’s situation, we see that “men had always wanted her” and they were in fact constantly imposing themselves inconsiderately. She has unfortunately become an object for men old and young, and they have caused her to lose any innocence she used to have. Their displays of affection have clearly become examples of personal satisfaction, and this has left her empty and unsatisfied throughout her life.

I tried to contrast this passage with her behaviors further along in Karintha, where she “stoned the cows” and “beat her dog.” Based on her situation of being taken advantage of by the greedy men in the poem, these negative actions seem to serve more as a response to her personal emptiness than anything. Unlike other women, she is unable to come of age properly, as those around her want to “ripen” her too soon. She sexually satisfies the desires of those around her without finding herself satisfied. This concept seems to show its true colors at the end, where men are unknown that she was a “growing thing ripened too soon” but continue to bring money and solely look out for their own cause. She carries out her existence living for the sake of others.



  1. I think your last line "She carries out her existence living for the sake of others" is interesting. In the middle of "Karintha" there are a couple sentences that talk about the preacher who even when he catches her in mischief tells himself that she is innocently lovely. Is she truly innocent in the sense that a preacher would see fit? I read this particular part of the piece as Karintha being a young beautiful slave who avoided getting into trouble for her mischief by taking any actions necessary, even sleeping with the preacher. No matter what she did it seemed she was never getting in any trouble.

  2. Do you thing that as a women who is desired by so many men she has power over them? While she was objectified, i feel like she had some power in the situation. Later in the passage it goes on to say that when men did such things as make passes at her and sexual comments she "indulges them when she is in the mood." It also talks about all the different things men were willing to do to obtain money and give to her, even illegal things. To me this shows that she has power over them because the desire for her is so strong that they are willing to do anything. I agree that she is objectified, but at the same time, when your desire and greed to have a certain object (assuming that the men view Karintha as an object) that you will do anything to obtain it, doesn't that object have power over you?

  3. Karintha was never really portrayed as innocent in this story. All that is addressed is her exquisite beauty, which enabled her to get away with whatever she pleased and made her realize very early that she could, as evidenced in the list of her offenses. Instead of learning those actions were wrong, she saw them as being excusable, at least for herself. More than a loss of innocence it's a loss potential: for being a good person, having a stable life, etc. She never lives for the sake of others, but for herself, evidenced by how she willingly takes the money of the young men without any reciprocation. Of course, this was all catalyzed by the lust of all the men surrounding her, and it only served to turn her into someone that would use it to her own advantage.

  4. I disagree with the notion that Karintha lives her lives for others. Indeed, Toomer's narrator asserts that "Karintha smiles, and indulges them when she is in the mood for it" (4). But these emotions are feigned, and they manifest themselves only when Karintha decides for them to. It is important to note, structurally, that Toomer places a crisp, declarative sentence immediately after the aforementioned one: "She has contempt for them" (4). Thus, Karintha transcends her situation. She is very much in control, and I agree with Greg's assertion that this control gives her a sense of power. She may have been "ripened too soon," but she recognizes that. The men do not. In fact, "They will bring their money; they will die not having found it out. . . ." (4).

  5. When I read that first line, I felt like it was capturing the inhuman nature of their thoughts. Karintha is a young girl. She has not reached the point of maturity in any sense of the word, and yet these older men desire her. Toomer uses language to make their desires animalistic. It is morally wrong for the men to want her. To use this young girl is not human.