We Wear The Mask By Paul Laurence Dunbar Analysis

501 Words3 Pages
Masks hiding pain; birds struggling to escape; humans concealing true feelings. Paul Laurence Dunbar captures the struggle that humans face in the attempt to escape oppression. Dunbar depicts the underlying message of oppression in the works “We Wear the Mask” and “Sympathy” during a period of time where African Americans did not receive equal opportunities as their Caucasian counterparts. Dunbar’s poems showcase the desire for freedom, and the oppression that African Americans faced during the late 1800s. Dunbar reveals hidden pain and suffering through “We Wear the Mask”. Dunbar sketches an image by referring to a mask “we wear” (1). The writer states the mask “hides our cheeks and shades our eyes” (2). Referencing hiding cheeks relates…show more content…
Dunbar’s exquisite subject of a bird shows how African American people became less human, and more animalistic. A caged bird is similar to how, even though African Americans are humans and technically “free”, they were still trapped. Dunbar’s powerful word choice emphasizes struggle and pain that occurred in the attempt to gain true freedom. Dunbar expresses the caged bird “beats his wings” until “its blood red on the cruel bars” (8-9). The author’s word choice of “beats”, “blood red”, and “cruel” narrates a hard, tedious struggle. The negative connotation of these words further Dunbar’s message of struggle. Furthermore, Dunbar repeats the idea of the bird beating his wings on bars to drill the image of imprisonment in the mind of the reader. Dunbar mentions the bird has a “pain that still throbs in the old, old scars” (12). The use of “throbs” depicts the being is experiencing a pain that durates. Dunbar’s inclusion of “old, old scars” reports that there has been past damage that still resonates. A caged bird symbolizes African Americans experiencing slavery, being free, but still treated poorly as if they were still
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