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The Souls of Black Folk by W.E.B Dubois

Powerful Essays
The Souls of Black Folk by W.E.B Dubois

The Souls of Black Folk by W.E.B Dubois is a influential work in African American literature and is an American classic. In this book Dubois proposes that "the problem of the Twentieth Century is the problem of the color-line." His concepts of life behind the veil of race and the resulting "double-consciousness, this sense of always looking at one's self through the eyes of others," have become touchstones for thinking about race in America. In addition to these lasting concepts, Souls offers an evaluation of the progress of the races and the possibilities for future progress as the nation entered the twentieth century.

" The Souls of Black Folk", is a collection of autobiographical and historical essays contains many vast themes. There is the theme of souls and their attainment of consciousness, the theme of double consciousness and the duality and bifurcation of black life and culture. One of Dubious the most outstanding themes is the idea of "the veil." The veil provides a connection between the fourteen seemingly independent essays that make up "The Souls of Black Folk". Mentioned at least once in most of the essays, it means that, "the Negro is a sort of seventh son, born with a veil, and gifted with second sight in this American world, -a world which yields him no true self-consciousness, but only lets him see himself through the revelation of the other world. It is a peculiar sensation, this double consciousness, this sense of always looking at one's self through the eyes of others”. The veil seems to be a metaphor for the separation and invisibility of black life and existence in America. It is also a major reoccurring theme in many books written about black life in America.

Du Bois examines the years immediately following the Civil War and, in particular, the Freedmen's Bureau's role in Reconstruction. He feels the Bureau's failures were due not only to Southern opposition and "national neglect," but also to mismanagement and courts that were biased. The Bureau did have successes, and there most important contribution to the progress was the founding of school for African American. Since the end of Reconstruction in 1876, Du Bois claims that the most significant event in African American history has been the coming about of the educator, Booker T. Washington. He then became the spokesman for the ...

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compared to the power that "the veil" has as a symbol of

black existence in America.

The veil in Souls of Black Folk is a metaphor that

connotes the invisibility of black America, the separation

between whites and blacks, and the obstacles that blacks

face in gaining self-consciousness in a racist society. The

veil is also a metaphor that reoccurs in other novels about

black strivings. The veil is not a two dimensional cloth to

Du Bois but instead it is a three dimensional prison that

prevent blacks from seeing themselves as they are but

instead makes them see the negative stereotypes that whites

have of them.

The veil is also to Du Bois both a blind fold and a noose

on the existence of "ten thousand thousand" Americans who

live and strive invisible and separated from their white

brothers and sisters. Du Bois wrote Souls of Black Folks to

lift the veil and show the pain and sorrow of a striving

people. Like Saint Paul's letter to the Corinthians Du

Bois's "letter" to the American people urges people not to

live behind the veil but to live above it.

So, wed with truth,

I dwell above the Veil.

Is this the life you grudge us, O knightly America?
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