The poem, "We Wear the Mask”, by Paul Laurence Dunbar is about separating Blacks people from the masks they wear. When Blacks wear their masks they are not simply hiding from their oppressor they are also hiding from themselves. This type of deceit cannot be repaid with material things. This debt can only be repaid through repentance and self-realization. The second stanza of “We Wear the Mask” tells Blacks whites should not know about their troubles. It would only give them leverage over Blacks. Black peoples’ pain and insecurities ought to be kept amongst themselves. There is no need for anyone outside the black race to know what lies beneath their masks. The third stanza turns to a divine being. Blacks look to god because he made them and is the only one that can understand them. They must wear their mask proudly. The world should stay in the dark about who they are. This poem is about Blacks knowing their place and staying in it. This is the only way they could be safe.
The poem “If We Must Die”, by Claude McKay, very different from Durbar’s poem, “We Wear the Mask”. The voice in this poem has strong and demanding tone. This poem was written for a black movement. ...
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... Negro mood, individual needs versus the race needs, right versus wrong and civilized verses primal instincts. In the end the Colonel was right. Negroes were born to serve and submit but not to an oppressor. Their serve and submit to their race and family needs.
The two poems are two extreme sides of the Negro mentality. They do not leave opportunity for other Blacks to move. They are both required complete conformity. The short story was about Blacks weighting their options. It shows that Blacks can think logically about their action.
In conclusion, I think these three writings gave a clear picture of Negro situation when they were written. As a collective the show the changes Blacks have gone through due to their experiences. Each one was well written and has literary worth. They forced me to think about their deeper meanings and the challenged how I saw Blacks.
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