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We Wear the Mask

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by

Claire Wells-Jensen

on 28 September 2016

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Transcript of We Wear the Mask

We Wear the Mask
Paul Laurence Dunbar

Biographical Information
Paul Laurence Dunbar [1872-1906]
Born of former slaves-parents divorced when Dunbar was little but he was still really close to both parents
Influenced by his parents stories of slavery
Dunbar's writing skills became prominent in high school
He became class president and class poet as the only black person in his class in Dayton Ohio
Lived with his widowed mother
Became an elevator operator after high school because no law schools would accept him
Founded his own paper the Dayton Tattler-this failed
He was encouraged by other poets to publish-the United Brethren Publishing House in Dayton agreed to print a volume of his poetry for $125.
He paid in installments from the proceeds of book sales.
Meaning of Title
masking oneself
self-preservation
protecting oneself from others
Analysis

didactic
“With torn and bleeding hearts we smile/And mouth with myriad subtleties”
“We smile, but, O great Christ, our cries/To thee from tortured souls arise”
frank/forthright
oppression of black folk
cadence is very chant-like similar to Negro spirituals
Couplets relate it back to chants, spirituals and Shakespeare and emphasize the lines that are not in that meter-well flowing poem
uses masculine, end, and slant rhyme

Sometimes hiding is to protects others from seeing pain
bleeding heart: someone is dangerously soft hearted-typically too liberal
human guile-excessive pride
Christian/Biblical allusion "O great Christ"
mask has trickster like description- in opposition to the actual point of the mask but shows how some perceive them despite
every time he indents “we wear the mask”
the end of a line does not signify the end of thought
reference to religious “slave songs” from black history
ingraining the belief into themselves
sorta cynical
“Why should the world be overwise,/In counting all our tears and sighs?”
Societal Influences on Attitude
Worldly Connections
Racism and other -isms are still very prevalent today
LGBT+ people face similar misrepresentation and face it daily as well as women
Voicing ones own oppression can get one hurt or killed- ie black people and police brutality right now
Black Lives Matter protesters face backlash for speaking for their safety
"Wearing the mask" is safer
aka Devices
Full transcript