Paul Dunbar's Poem By Tera Hunter

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Although it is easy to say that the greatest point of convergence between Paul Dunbar’s poem and chapter eight in Tera Hunter’s book is that race is the ultimate mask, the following discussion aims to problematize that view. Instead, it is my opinion that the greatest convergence is the way in which pleasure and leisure were used as a mask for the pain and frustrations black working- class women endured in Postbellum Atlanta daily. Stage actors of ancient Greek theater wore masks with exaggerated facial expressions to reveal the emotions of their roles thus prompting the audience to interpret the character at surface level. Although Dunbar does not explicitly state the race of the wearer one can assume that, given the background of Dunbar and publication year, the mask-wearer is a subjugated Black body in the in postbellum America. The masks worn by actors in ancient Greek gave universality to the character so that the audience would…show more content…
The mask is thus a metaphor for social performance by African- American’s to avoid the consequences associated with telling the truth about their experiences with racial injustice and their feelings about it. The mask wearer is portrayed as having to pretend they are content when they had no reason to be so in the existing social context and this emphasizes the significance of the mask as a tool of survival Dunbar’s piece begins with: “We wear the mask that grins and lies / it hides our cheeks and shades our eyes,”- this is quickly an indicator that this mask is a device used by its
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