The Souls of Black Folk

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Lynch is a writer and teacher in Northern New Mexico. In the following essay, she examines ways that the text of The Souls of Black Folk embodies Du Bois' experience of duality as well as his "people's." In Du Bois' "Forethought" to his essay collection, The Souls of Black Folk, he entreats the reader to receive his book in an attempt to understand the world of African Americans—in effect the "souls of black folk." Implicit in this appeal is the assumption that the author is capable of representing an entire "people." This presumption comes out of Du Bois' own dual nature as a black man who has lived in the South for a time, yet who is Harvard-educated and cultured in Europe. Du Bois illustrates the duality or "two-ness," which is the…show more content…
For example, the 1903 New York Times review of The Souls of Black Folk asserts, "probably he does not understand his own people in their natural state." Such statements not only support Du Bois' interpretation of the way African Americans are viewed by white America but also reflect the way he himself was viewed as not a "natural" black man, and, in fact, divided from his people. Several of the essays in The Souls of Black Folk are delivered in a third-person, rhetorical tone that calls to mind Du Bois' superior education and attention to the classics. "Of the Dawn of Freedom" and "Of Mr. Booker T. Washington and Others" in particular reflect Du Bois' intellect and ability as on par with white intellectuals, in the forum of white intellectuals. Other first-person narratives, such as "Of the Meaning of Progress," retain the previous essays' formality of tone and, in Rampersad's words, mark their "literary antecedents as clearly classical." Since the goal of the work is to convince mainstream America of the wholeness and humanity of a disenfranchised people, Du Bois clearly seeks to make his work viable in terms of the mainstream and thus uses the language of the mainstream. According to Rampersad, In its variety and range The Souls of Black Folk indicates Du Bois' appreciation and mastery of the essay form as practiced in the nineteenth century ... Sensitive to the many purposes to which the form

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