4 May 2014
I live my life a rebel, a vigilante, devils try to get at me
Intro:Paul Laurence Dunbar was an African-American poet, novelist, and playwright of the late
19th and early 20th centuries. Born to parents who had been slaves in Kentucky before the Civil
War, Dunbar started to write as a child and was president of his high school's literary society. He
published his first poems at the age of 16 in a Dayton newspaper. I've only read one of Dunbar's
poems but I know Dunbar's work is known for its colorful language and a conversational tone,
with a brilliant rhetorical structure. I love Dunbar's poem "We Wear the Mask." One of the most
important features in the poem "We Wear the Mask" is of diction because of the way Dunbar
speaks in the poem you wouldn't think it's a black man in 1896.
The poem starts with "We wear the mask that grins and lies, It hides our cheeks and
shades our eyes," and it means a grin and a lie go well together. If you're going to deceive, you
may as well look pleasant. The tension generated by the juxtaposition of two dissociated images
continues throughout the poem. It is allusive of the idea, made popular by W.E.B. Du Bois, that
black people must develop a double consciousness. "This debt we pay to human guile;" Line 3
tells us that the people wearing these masks owe it all to human deceit. Lying is inevitably a part
of daily life and the people have to lie and wear a mask to hide their tortured souls. The use of
the word "human" makes this relate to all of humanity who suffers but are forced to hide their
suffering. There were two words that stood out in line 4 "we smile," this lets me believe that
even through the pain and suffering, you put on that fake smile to let your abuser know that they
haven't yet broken you. That as long as you smile, they can't touch you. "And mouth with
myriad subtleties." With using the phrasing "myriad subtleties," it reminds me of acting.
Portraying that your somebody your not to make a good impression or to not draw attention to
yourselves. It's another form of the "mask." A fake appearance to survive.
"Why should the world be over-wise," I believe this is stating, Why should we give the
world satisfaction in our pain? Why should we let them think they are special in the destruction
they are causing? How I compare this to my own life is by how my everyday...