The Souls Of Black Folk By W.E.B Dubois

3106 words - 12 pages

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 race. But Du Bois argues that Washington's approach to race relations is counterproductive to the long-term progress of the African American race. Washington's acceptance of segregation and his emphasis on material progress represent an "old attitude of adjustment and submission." Du Bois asserts that this policy has damaged African Americans by contributing to the loss of the vote, the loss of civil status, and the loss of aid for institutions of higher education. Du Bois insists that "the right to vote," "civic equality," and "the education of youth according to ability" are essential for...

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