In the late 19th century, African-Americans suffered pain, frustration, and anguish caused by Caucasians, as well as from one another. For African-Americans to openly voice the violence they faced from Caucasians would result in a dangerous aftermath. Sometimes, African-Americans would hold their true feelings from each other because they didn't want to be judged or cause uproar. So they stayed silent letting all this happen to them, Paul Laurence Dunbar helps all those who lost their voice in the violence regain it, in the his poem “We Wear the Mask”. "We Wear the Mask" written by Paul Laurence Dunbar was done with African-Americans in mind.
“We Wear the Mask” by Paul Laurence Dunbar is a lyrical poem describing the symbolic mask worn by black Americans to cover up their deep misery and pain while facing racial discrimination and psychological torment in the post-Civil War years. The overall impression the reader gets is that of a mournful commentary that delivers a sad reality. The struggle lies in the fact that black Americans do not wish to expose their suffering, and so they are forced to use the mask as a way to make the world believe they are content and satisfied. This is purely a survival tactic. In order for black Americans to assimilate into the society that has caused them and their ancestors pain, they feel the need to wear a mask that allows them to at least superficially express their gratitude for having been kept alive.
According to William Carroll, “The poem closes with a repetition of a sentiment stated earlier: ‘But let the world dream otherwise, / we wear the mask!’ The people show a dogged determination to keep the true nature of their sufferings to themselves and to present to others an outward show of happiness and lack of care. Surely, such insistence on deception must be motivated by powerful feelings resulting from terrifying experiences. Such were the experiences of many people enslaved in the United States before the birth of this poet” (1-2). Because of their racial appearance and experience in injustice society, they have to hide their feeling. Similarly, Langston Hughes was an American poet whose African-American themes... ... middle of paper ... ...d Edition, 1896.
It’s not until the end of the first stanza that readers are introduced to the pain blacks chose to disguise themselves from. According to Dunbar “With torn and bleeding hearts we smile, / And mouth with myriad subtleties.” (4,5) Bleeding and torn are symbolic of pain. The fact that the subjects of the mask continue to smile suggests that the mask was used to hide this pain. And considering slavery, many blacks could have had torn and bleeding hearts from intense labor, separation of family and loss of identities. In fact, some blacks actually did suffer physical bleeding and tearing.
Challenging racism and oppression by bringing to the foreground narratives of humiliation and violence against their people” according to Mothe Subhash in “Violation of Human Rights of the Negro's in the Poems of Langston Hughes”. The theme of powerlessness leads to passion that is shown in Hughes work like in “I, Too”, “Theme for English B” and “Dream Deferred” challenging racism at its core. In the “I Too” poem it’s very heartfelt because Hughes is speaking from the soul around racism. He passed through the Harlem Renaissance why facing struggles with racism. However, his writing seems clear, by using a “pictorial quality he draws a picture before our eyes what life was in 1930's” (Subhash).
At first, when they were slaves, they could only hope to be treated equally, and therefore dream of America, but now they actually were true citizins. The blacks had stopped dreaming (singing) of America and had become part of it. One of the biggest problems facing the narrator of the novel is that he is not accepted as a citizen. He too, wishes for ... ... middle of paper ... ...e blindness of the whites and their stubburness to see past the black skin of slaves made it very hard for slaves to ever be heard, because to everyone else, they were invisible. They did not get a say in anything, including their own lives.
These poems both focus on the negative emotions of anguish and resentment associated with the unequal treatment of African Americans, and, through the use of tone and metaphor, the differences between individual and group experiences are illuminated. The poem “America” touches the heart and dazzles the mind. This poem is particularly interesting for its changing tone throughout the piece. The beginning tone shown is one of negativity and anger. When the speaker says, “she feeds me bread of bitterness,” (America 1) it can be presumed that he connects the phrase to the feelings the African Americans are experiencing in the South; they feel free, or are given bread, but not completel... ... middle of paper ... ...ith life’s hardships.
At the same time, it heightens the issue of segregation and racial discrimination which the African-Americans are suffering from. Meanwhile, words like “wonder”, “neither”, and “nor” show Hughes’ bitter sense of estrangement since he is unable to determine to which race he belongs. Thus, the poem is also a reminder by Hughes to his people of the tragic consequences of this social system on the mulatto offspring who have no place in either race. In this poem, Hughes dramatizes the inherent tensions of a mulatto who resents his mixed origins and ascribes his failure in life to it. Though blaming his parents at the beginning for his dilemma, Hughes ends by forgiving them and pitying himself for his dislocation and disenfranchisement from the American society.
Countee Cullen like Hughes was a notable African American poet who was also fed up with the injustice that his people were receiving at the time. In this poem Cullen questions the workings of the almighty God. He asks why God does so many poor things to good objects, whether that is the smallest of creatures to the biggest man . Cullen then concludes by asking why did He make a poet during this time black? With this question Cullen is questioning why in a world where African American people are treated so poorly would God make him a poet.
Everyone was either scared of the African Americans or wanted nothing to do with them. This is a poem about how all these African Americans wanted to do was find some peace and quiet. To find a place where they could have a little bit of hope; hope is something that these people needed, even if... ... middle of paper ... ...know if they were waiting for more rights, a different era or a miracle. Mostly all they were really looking for was hope. The Explorer, by Gwendolyn Brooks, and Fredrick Douglass, by Robert Hayden, are both poems that really reflected on how bad the African American suffrage was in the mid-1900’s.