Analysis Of We Wear The Mask By Paul Laurence Dunbar

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As one of the first nationally-known African-American writers in the 19th century and a son of former slaves, Paul Laurence Dunbar believed in the importance of bringing awareness to the injustices in which revolved around slavery and racism overall. Throughout his multitude of writings two of his most acclaimed works Sympathy and We Wear the Mask convey just this through strong syntactical style as well as utilization of various poetic devices. Within the first work, Dunbar shows the interrelatedness of an oppressed African American man, himself, who feels bound and imprisoned by society as expressed through the analogy of a broken-winged bird in a cage. One of the most powerful lines within this text is “I know what the caged bird feels, alas!” Dunbar’s main idea is displayed through this statement as he suggests that he identifies with the pain of a lack of freedom which a caged bird feels. Although the reader is not given an explicit answer as to why, it can be assumed considering he was an African-American poet who often wrote about the struggle of his race, that his suffering is the result of his identity; the bird is suffering because it isn't free, and at the time that Dunbar wrote Sympathy, African-Americans were still living in an America bound by Jim Crow laws. Moreover, it can be inferred that in his decision of creating the title, while Sympathy does express the connection Dunbar feels with a caged bird’s emotions, it can also be seen as a call on his readers to
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