Explication of We Wear Our Mask Essay example

655 Words Aug 26th, 2010 3 Pages
In the poem, “We Wear the Mask’, the narrator, Paul Lawrence Dunbar, expresses the pain African American experienced during the slave trade and how the slaves learned to suppress their emotions. The poem shows a contrast between African American’s social faces and their “bleeding hearts”. The tone of the poem is not a corrective tone, but rather an explanatory one. In considering the time period, it would make sense that the narrator would be careful about insulting the white community. In the first stanza the tone starts as explanatory in just speaking of the masquerade and state of oppression. Then the last two stanzas are very matter of fact. When the narrator sarcastically states, “Why should the world be otherwise”. Showing …show more content…
And “we” is referencing the African American community as a whole and not one singular person. The structure of this poem is 3 stanzas with all the lines in the poem except Lines 9 and 15 in iambic tetrameter. In this metric pattern, a line has four pairs of unstressed and stressed syllables, for a total eight syllables. The internal structure of the poem is the narrator talking about the mask the African American people wear and the oppression that hurts them. Then the second stanza is sarcastic and negative towards the idea that it will ever change. Then the last stanza shows that they cling to Christ and the journey will be long.
The poem also uses end rhyme to add a certain rhythm to the poem as a whole. And the scheme he employs: aabbc, aabd, aabbad. End rhyme, in this poem, serves to effectively pull the reader through to the end of the poem. By pairing it with lines restricted to eight syllables. The narrator creates an almost nursery-rhyme like rhythm. In his third stanza however, his last line, cutting short of eight syllables, stands with an emphatic four syllables. Again, in the last stanza, he utilizes the same technique for the last line of the poem. The narrator’s awareness of rhyme and syllable structure provides the perfect bone structure for his poem’s rhythm.
Helping making the theme of this poem clear that many blacks wore a mask that suggested happiness and contentment, but concealed
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