Analysis Of ' Dunbar ', Chestnut, And Twain Essays

Analysis Of ' Dunbar ', Chestnut, And Twain Essays

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Dunbar was believed to be the first black American to earn national recognition for his writing. Dunbar was the son of freed slaves his father escaped slavery and served in the union army during the civil war. . In Antebellum and Post Civil War America, African Americans utilized what little authority they had through the power of the mask. In a world where the white-man held political power, money, and land, blacks used what they had, their wit, to survive. Terrified of being perceived as disobedient and then sold down the river, slaves acted differently around whites than they would around their own people .The writings of Harris, Dunbar, Chestnut, and Twain illustrate how African Americans used the only refuge they had, their mind, to combat the dominating authority of white society, and how in the process, they created “the mask” to not only survive but to exert their power their mind was their ultimate source of power. Dunbar was a different type of writer he took a step back and overlooked things and worked with personal and emotional issues in a mannerly way.

Dunbar expresses deep feeling of blacks, but in his poem “We wear the mask “it still hides the central issue .In this case it seems that the poem its self was written to also wear a mask not once did it mention blacks nor racial prejudice .Dunbar himself avoids mentioning blacks and their times of suffering so my point is that this poem could stand for anyone who hides behind a mask or hides behind their feelings for example a child who defensively humors an abusive parent. My thought is that Dunbar as well wear a mask of his true feeling about African American suffering, but didn’t want to make it as a central issue.

Even though “We wear the mask” d...


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...t, our cries / to thee from tortured souls arise” (10-11).

Applying this to one other writer and text we have discussed I remember reading Brer rabbit tales. Cleverness was the major tool in the Brer Rabbit tales. This reflected African Americans through their escape plan from their oppression using their mind. Another aspect to the masking is the practice of storytelling. As a white man himself, Harris knew what white readers expected of black characters Uncle Remus is the typical black character an old, gentle, slave that tells stories to his master’s children it was more like masking one story with another meaning trying to tell a true story but hiding the true issue. Cleverness and joking were the only powers African Americans had available to them, they took advantage of masking to survive. Blacks had to play the role in order to live in white society.

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