Analysis Of The Poem ' We Wear The Mask ' Essay

Analysis Of The Poem ' We Wear The Mask ' Essay

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The poem “We Wear the Mask” sheds light upon what it was like to be an African American raised in a white-dominated society. In particular, the poem essentially expresses the classification of African Americans in post-slavery America. Dunbar’s concept of “The Mask” correlates to the black women in Atlanta due to the fact that the women endured vigorous amounts of pain and brutality. Not only were they shamed for their skin tone, but for their gender as well. It became a daily hassle for women to go about their lives due to the fact that they were not only a woman, but a black woman living in a predominantly white society.
Dunbar begins the poem by declaring that the masks show an indication of one hiding their true feelings. Alternatively, he discerns that the underlying pain and overwhelming emotions are what these masks try to cover up. For example, in “Working Class Neighborhoods and Everyday Life”, a widowed washer woman explains “her most distressing days after her spouse’s death” (pg. 50). She experienced a moment when her children were hungry and continuously cried. Her pride would not allow her to borrow from anyone. Therefore, she gathered all she could to make “a little hoe-cake of bread” (pg. 50). Once she dispersed the bread amongst her six children, she continued ironing, but extremely saddened. With that being said, the widowed washer woman defined what it was like to wear a mask. She was an African American woman in Atlanta who did not live well, but as best as she and her family could. Her and her husband lived together for seventeen years and also had six children. However, his death was horrific for her and her responsibilities to six small children, single-handedly, became even more horrifying. She began wear...


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...aid to “quit” or leave the horrific circumstances, no matter how difficult leaving became. They were determined to have their voices heard and to fight for the equality they felt they deserved.
Overall, because of the inequality among African Americans, they were forced to mask their true feelings. African Americans, both men and women, were not allowed to be emotionally expressive of their mistrust within their own society. If they were to express their genuine emotions, they would have to endure cruel punishments and injustice. The injustice would go past reasonable limitations and would cause even more uproar from the rest of the Black community. Eventually, African Americans would become rebellious and take off their masks and allow themselves to risk all that they have to fight for what they believe in, but until then, they will remain hidden behind the masks.

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