we wear the masks Essay

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ENC 1102 October 10 2014 We Wear the Mask In Paul Laurence Dunbar’s poem We Wear the Mask you quickly find out it is one big metaphor. Dunbar’s meaning behind this poem is about people covering up their feelings like someone using a mask to cover their face; as if it’s a big front to hide what is really going on. Dunbar being an African American poet in the late 19th and early 20th century was a harder time on colored people. His poems relate back to the hardships he saw and knew. The poem is broken up into three paragraphs. Each one talks about this mask hiding cheeks and eyes, covering up the truth from the world, and dealing with your emotions behind closed doors. In We Wear the Mask Dunbar uses metaphors and symbolism, which all…show more content…
We can’t show any weakness or negative emotions which is exactly what slave owners and the average white man also thought. In one line Dunbar says “With torn and bleeding hearts we smile.” In that line alone it states so much about what his and other families went through. A lot of families in that time period got split up and separated from buying and selling people off. People often focus on the cruelty to slaves during that time but not a lot is focused on the emotional aspect of the cruelty. Mothers watched their own kids get sold off, husbands knew about their wives being raped by their masters, kids watched their parents be whipped for sometimes no reason at all. All of those things were physically awful, yet a lot of times we don’t fret enough on the emotion aspect of it. That’s where the mask would come into play. The African Americans would carry that smiling mask with them everywhere even though underneath it was a heartbroken soul. The theme in We Wear the Mask is one that any African American in those times could relate to. It is all about concealed pain, frustration, and anger. The mask they all wear is not a physically real mask (even though it may feel like one). This figurative mask is to cover up what they all want to express. The reason why African Americans at this time wore this so called mask was because they feared the consequences of their owners. Someone could get beaten earlier in the day but if you retaliated with a lash of anger or a

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