We Wear The Mask

600 Words3 Pages
In the literary readings, If We Must Die by Claude McKay and We Wear the Mask by Paul Laurence Dunbar, they share the similar concept of hiding the pain and fear from your oppressor. Dunbar said, “We smile, but, O great Christ, our cries/ To Thee from tortured souls arise” (Dunbar p.243). Here he is speaking of how much of the pain and suffering him and others went through while they was born into the slave world. In McKay’s piece, you image a troop of drained combatants sitting on the ground. Their arms relax on their knees; their heads droop low. After a moment of miserable silence, pops out from the soldiers paces a man sweating and bloodied. The man stops and glances around. He nods at the men with compassion, because he's tired too. However,…show more content…
“We Wear the mask that grins and lies/It hides our cheeks and shades our eyes--/” (Dunbar p.243). The “we” in this case would be referring to black Americans of the time. Masks are used as cyphers for cloaks and dishonesty. Here the mask represent more than just a dress-up image. Dunbar is not talking about a real mask, but it’s rather a representative one that signifies the things individuals say and do that are not truthful. Dunbar also reminds us that masks are occasionally a vital part of self-protection, bearing in mind the threats that black Americans often challenged if they chose the more straightforward road. Shading their eyes is getting at a core of our humankind and the way we do or do not express our true feelings and emotions. Cheeks are often a sign of how we indicate our feelings and eyes are believed to be the windows to our soul. So if both of these are unseen, then we know we are not showing how we truly feel. “This debt we pay to human guile;/With torn and bleeding hearts we smile,” (Dunbar p. 243). Here, there’s a development of truth behind those masks and sense that there’s a lot of pain here. The hearts are not only torn but also bleeding which highlights the struggle and dichotomy that Dunbar is addressing. That "smile" also forms upon the original explanation of the mask smiling and lying. Human guile is a general human struggle. Telling dishonesties and being someone we are not is just a common part of everyday life. On one side there’s the disguise and on the other side is the
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