"We Wear the Mask" Analysis Essay

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“We Wear the Mask” Analysis Essay Imagine living a life of seclusion to the outside world. The only people that know your struggles and injustices put upon you are your immediate family. This was Paul Laurence Dunbar’s existence and many other African Americans at the time when he wrote, “We Wear the Mask." The poem was written eleven years after the Civil War in 1896. The victory of the Union (Northern States) over the Confederate (Southern States) freed the Negroid’s from slavery, and gave them the right to vote, and own property. Although African Americans now had their liberty, they weren’t free from segregation, violence and prejudices. “We wear the Mask” is written from this experience, and regrettable it is still to a small degree part of the American fabric today. Being African American in the late 20th century wasn’t a bed of roses. They were the minority and were not treated with respect as a whole from its community. African Americans were relegated to menial jobs as porters, ditch – diggers, servants, shoe shine boys and the like. Hate groups against the Negroid’s inflicted beatings and lynching’s while public officials looked the other way. African Americans were also segregated from the mostly Caucasian population. They had to attend poorly equipped schools. It is from this persecution that Mr. Dunbar writes his poem “We Wear the Mask.” It was dangerous for Mr. Dunbar and other blacks to show their dissatisfaction and pain from their abuses. Hence they wore a mask of joy. “This debt we pay to human guile; / with torn and bleeding hearts we smile, / and mouth with myriad subtleties” (3-5). The debt is putting on the mask of happiness in front of their repressors. Today’s America is better, but we still have prejudices. We see this in subtly ways and in the extremes. Subtly, one doesn’t befriend a particular race group because of
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