Masks in 'We Wear the Mask' and 'To Kill a Mockingbird'

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People act differently when they are with certain people than when they are alone. Some will call this act a “mask.” This metaphor is used because people cover up who they truly are or what they really feel with their actions; similar to the way a mask covers up a person’s face. This idea of a mask is explored in Paul Laurence Dunbar’s poem, “We Wear the Mask” and readers can see examples of “masks” in Harper Lee’s novel, To Kill a Mockingbird. People often wear masks to hide something about themselves that they are not proud of or hide their emotions and fears they do not want others to know. In Paul Laurence Dunbar’s poem, “We Wear the Mask” the speaker wears a mask to hide his internal suffering because he does not want the rest of the world to think he is weak. This poem relates the prejudice black people face against white people. The speaker starts the poem with the lines, “We wear the mask that grins and lies,” (1). Here he describes the kind of “masks” that he wears. “Grins and lies,” refers to how the mask functions, the mask smiles, showing happiness even when it is a fake and a lie. While describing how it feels to wear the mask, the speaker says, “With torn and bleeding hearts we smile” (4). He says this to show that on the inside they are suffering greatly, but they disguise themselves as smiling to show that nothing is wrong. This shows how the author feels while wearing his “mask,” and demonstrates to the reader how the speaker feels it is necessary to put up
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