Of Our Spiritual Strivings Du Bois Analysis

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“[…] 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” (Du Bois 8). W.E.B Du Bois an African-American sociologist, writer and activist, describes in detail the moment he realised that his blackness was a problem in modern society. In his essay Of Our Spiritual Strivings Du Bois formulates the concept of the veil, describing the problematic African American’s experience of having to look at “one’s self through the eyes of another, [and] of measuring one’s soul by the tape of a world that looks on in amused contempt and pity” (8), which resultantly “yields him no true self-consciousness” (8). Thus a twoness emerges, “two souls, two…show more content…
Through Helga’s apparel, Larsen can be seen exploring Du Bois’s idea of double consciousness, however rather than remaining on one side of the veil she attempts to portray the alternate views of Du Bois’s veil, for through Helga’s biracial identity and mixed heritage the reader discovers a triple-consciousness, viewing herself through the oppressive western veil, the African American veil and the European, exotic veil. Therefore, instead of merely viewing herself through the single, constricting veil cast over most African American’s, her ambiguous identity allows her explore and create her identity through multiple veils, which is not only reflected in her conscious thought but also in the various styles of apparel she fashions.
“Then it dawned upon me with certain suddenness that I was different from the others […] shut out from their world by a vast veil” (Du Bois 8). Like Dubois Helga too comes to realise her differences in a modern world, however unlike him, her biracial heritage means that she feels like an outsider even
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