Double-Consciousness Under the White Gaze

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Double-consciousness under the White Gaze in Maud Martha The theme of double-consciousness was first defined by Du Bois in The Souls of the Black Folk. He put the term “double-consciousness” in "a world which yields him no true self-consciousness, but only lets him see himself through the revelation of the other world. It is a peculiar sensation, this double-consciousness, this sense of always looking at one 's self through the eyes of others, of measuring one 's soul by the tape of a world that looks on in amused contempt and pity. One ever feels his twoness—an American, a Negro; two souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings; two warring ideals in one dark body, whose dogged strength alone keeps it from…show more content…
No need for weapons, physical violence or prohibition, it takes only a surveillant gaze to humble anyone, to make them the overseers of themselves. Luckily, Martha was a woman with artistic sensibility. Although living an ordinary life in a racist world, still she can find beauty and dignity in her life. When she spared the mouse, she experienced a new cleanness in her because “she had not destroyed. In the center of that simple restraint was—creation. She had created a piece of life. It was wonderful.”(Brooks 1667) This is a prelude revealing that her subjectivity was budding. Later when she gave birth to a daughter, her subjectivity was much improved by this motherhood—she did create a new life who was totally dependent on her at that time. At the beauty salon, she was shocked that the salon owner Mrs. Johnson just put up with a white saleswoman’s humiliation of referring them as “niggers”. It is not difficult to associate to what happened when Martha went to millinery with this. She decided against the hat even though the owner promised to cut price, and this lack of manners was attributed to her skin color by the salesgirl. “Black—oh,black--” Her subjectivity is helpful yet not strong enough to fight everything. When Paul was laid off she went to work as a house maid in the Burns-Coopers’, she experienced that white gaze even more violently because the white woman Mrs. Coopers
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