Analysis Of The Poem We Wear The Mask By Paul Laurence Dunbar

This poem was written around the time of slavery, Dunbar witnessed everything there had to do deal with that. The African Americans had to go through a tough and heartbreaking time when this poem was written. They had to go through hiding every single emotion and almost just be emotionless. In the poem “We Wear The Mask” by Paul Laurence Dunbar it is about the African Americans, and how they had to go through hiding their unhappiness and struggle during a time of slavery.

While the poem starts by saying “We,” it is especially targeted toward the African American race during the time of slavery. The mask suggests not just a synonym for the speaker in a poem but also a rich tradition of ritual and ceremony in many cultures around the world. The speaker criticizes not the wearer of the mask but rather the racist society that makes necessary this masking of true feeling to survive. With the allusion to the martyr christ, the speaker characterizes those who are masked as tortured souls, grinning on the outside but crying on the inside. The idea of the happy, singing African America is changed here, too. The mask has played a significant role in the life of the African Americans, where they pretend to put a smile on their face even when they feel sad and have to deceive others. They are doing this to hide their true selves from society. African Americans are just trying to hide their true feelings from their American masters. African Americans had to hide their sufferings and pain just to survive. They were never allowed to open up about their feelings so they had to have people believe that they were happy. The author uses the mask as a metaphor to show the false persona that people had to hide their true feelings and emotions from others to be able to even live in peace. The poem also shows how the tortured souls are crying out for Jesus until the day they can remove the mask.

The mask not only relates to the African American slaves at that time but it also relates to the current time. The reader might relate to the poem by seeing that it is true that they try to hide their emotions. If someone is sad about something they try to cover it with a fake smile/ emotion. Acting like nothing is wrong so the public does not see what is going on with their lives. Even now people have to hide their true emotions to go through life without being judged upon. These types of problems are still huge. It is not like everything changed at a snap of a finger. All this took time and there is still racism attached to this even in everyday lives today. There are anger and heartbreak that involve what is “wearing the mask” having to hold back your true self is very difficult but it is done more than you can even think of. This has a deeper psychological meaning when it comes to the day by day as someone conceals what they truly feel. Someone may be going through something tough and still be able to conceal exactly what they feel.

The poem depicts how hard it was back then and how even showing your true emotions was not believed on. It shows how are African Americans had it back then and how people to this day still have to deal with this. Having to hide their tortured souls and live like that day today just to be kept alive. Slavery was a tough and evil time and this poem shows that exactly and how it breaks everyone's heart having to do that.  

16 December 2021
Your Email

By clicking “Send”, you agree to our Terms of service and  Privacy statement. We will occasionally send you account related emails.

close thanks-icon

Your essay sample has been sent.

Order now
Still can’t find what you need?

Order custom paper and save your time
for priority classes!

Order paper now