Racism Exposed In Paul Dunbar's They Wear The Mask

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In “We Wear the Mask” by Paul Dunbar, the poet talks about human sorrow due to racism and it is demonstrated through symbolism, allusions, and personification. “We wear the mask that grins and lies” is symbolism because masks have long been used for deception or protection. In this poem, it is used as symbolism for both. In Dunbar’s poem, he describes everyone as needing these masks to hide their true feelings from the rest of the world and as personal protection from the views of others. “… O great Christ...” in line ten is an allusion to Jesus Christ. The use of this allusion is important to the theme as people do not use the Lord nor his subjects’ names in vain, and so when they use it at all, it is with a specific purpose. Dunbar prayed…show more content…
She explores this theme with the use of rhetorical questions, personification, and metaphors. “Did you want to see me broken? / Bowed head and lowered eyes?” She is asking if people expect her to be broken and crushed, but she is not anticipating an answer so these are rhetorical questions. The tone of these questions seems strong and defiant, and she refuses to be put down and expected to do something she does not wish to do. “You may shoot me with your words” is personification since words cannot possibly shoot a weapon, and so it is saying that someone can use words to try and hurt her feelings. However, Angelou gives an open invitation to try and do this, so she is aware and knows that not even someone’s best efforts will affect her. “I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide” is a metaphor for being a black woman that can go anywhere and everywhere, just like how any ocean has an extensive reach across the world. It is true because she is a prominent poet and her influence is far-reaching amongst the masses. In “Still I Rise” by Maya Angelou, she shows that she will always rise above the struggles she faces due to her race through rhetorical questions, personification, and

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