© 2016 Shmoop University, Inc. All rights reserved.

The Fans

Symbol Analysis

Sure, they're average Joes. But no less symbolic for it. From the details we get from the speaker, we can see that these Ma Rainey fans are symbolic of the black southern community as a whole.

  • Section 1: Ma Rainey's fans come from everywhere. They're like a cross-section of the southern black community. 
  • Lines 19-20: At the beginning of section 2, the speaker gives us some more specific details about where Ma Rainey's fans hail from. River settlements, farms, lumber camps. These are working class folks—no one fancy here. And each of these details gives us an idea of the typical black southerner's lifestyle and background.
  • Lines 21-24: No matter what their specific reaction, these fans are all pumped to see Ma Rainey sing. Blues music was a huge part of southern black communities, and here they're all taking part as audience members.
  • Section 3: Here we get to learn more about the inner world of these fans, and Brown gives us an idea of what their lives were like on an emotional level. They've got hardships up the wazoo, and are looking for solace, strength, and comfort in Ma Rainey's songs. Perhaps that's something they don't get a lot of in other areas of their lives. 
  • Line 52: In the last line of the poem, Brown emphasizes just how important blues music was to black culture in the south. It was so essential, that there are barely even words to explain it.

People who Shmooped this also Shmooped...