In America during the time these poems were written, African Americans were combated with issues of segregation and inequality. The poem “America” describes African American feelings toward the country of America; whereas, “The White City” describes African American feelings toward segregation and individual experiences. Both of these poems successfully display different interpretations of hate through the use of various literary devices. Understanding hatred in its complexity and the uses it has for African Americans is accurately displayed through these poems with passion. 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 Negro Speaks of Rivers", one of Hughes most famous works, is basically a "history" of black society. In this poem, black society is, in a way, the speaker. The speaker has watched how slavery has taken its people out of a state of nature and placed them into "bondage." The poem is obviously addressed to the members of black society who seem to find some discontentment in the lifestyle they live in a "white man's world." However, there is an optimistic undertone in that the speaker does show how much African Americans have endured.
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. In this fifteen-line poem, Dunbar expresses his anger at having to hide his emotions. When black Americans were beaten, lynched and discriminated against, they were obligated to absorb it and mask their true emotions with a smile. Paul Laurence Dunbar, a son of freed slaves, goes on to emphasize the severity of the pain and suffering that these masks cover up by concealing the emotions behind a façade of smiles and grins. The mask, in essence, becomes a symbol of both weakness and strength.
Judging by the Cover Paul Lawrence Dunbar, an African-American poet, describes the suffering that blacks were subjected to in his 1913 poem, “We Wear the Mask”. In his poem, Dunbar asserts that blacks are partially responsible for the suffering of African Americans due to their belief that a deceptive “mask” was necessary for their survival. Dunbar begins his poem by introducing the idea of deception through a symbolic “mask”. In the first two lines, Dunbar states “we wear the mask that grins and lies, / it hides our cheeks and shades our eyes” (1,2). These lines portray an image of a dishonest face partially because of Dunbar’s word choice and partially because masks have been used as tools of disguise throughout history.
The poem is also about the mask, humans wear to disguise pain, sadness, ... ... middle of paper ... ...is presented in a way that “blacks or whites can draw admonition from the subject” (1) . Another perspective from Revell is that the poem presents itself in terms of passionate personal regret. Revell believes that Dunbar felt guilty because he allowed himself to be bound to the “ plantation lifestyle” (1). The plantation life style internal anguish and agony the blacks went through as slaves. Some blacks have moved on from it, but some continue to use slavery as an excuse to not progress in life.
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).
We Wear the Mask “We Wear the Mask” is a short poem written by Paul Laurence Dunbar in 1895. It is written in iambic tetrameter and has many symbols throughout its stanzas. These symbols show the struggle that black Americans have to live with in society, and the hardships they face on a daily basis. The symbols that are portrayed throughout this poem could be identified as the mask, the smile, the word we. This paper will be discussing how the use of these symbols makes this poem a relatable piece, even in this modern day, as the struggle for black Americans to live happily continues to exist.