We Wear the Mask That Grin and Lies

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Mask 1
Lillie Coleman
English 310 - Writing Principle
October 4, 2010
We Wear the Mask
We Wear the Mask a poem written by Paul Laurence Dunbar. I believe that Dunbar’s poem speaks out on the harsh realities of the mistreatment and injustice of blacks. It depicts the struggles of survival for black people living in white America. It also describes how blacks were forced to repress their true feelings of grief, sadness and pain.

I believe the poem speaks out during a time in history when black people experienced brutal abuse and injustice at the hands of white slave masters or overseers. They were forced to live in unlivable condition and eat unhealthy foods. I believe that “We wear the mask that grins and lies” points out how oppressed black people were forced to wear a mask to hide their pain and suffering. I believe that “We” referred to black people, “the mask” was the way they concealed their true feeling of grief, sadness, and anger from whites as well as one another. “Grins and lies” were the camouflaged facial expression wore to portray happiness and contentment, and one of the strategies for survival in a prejudice and discriminatory white world. It also compares black Americans to that of black performers on stage who “sing,” and wear the “black face” while silently their “cries… and tortured souls arise,” “and mouth with myriad subtleties,” points out that blacks wanted to speak out, but was afraid to speak out publicly and let the whites know how they really felt about the mistreatment, prejudices, and inequality that was brought against them, because if they did they risked dangerous consequences.

In conclusion, Paul Laurence Dunbar’s poem “We Wear The Mask” the portrayal of the black community will forever live on for what it offers and represents, and the echoes of the poem will continue to touch readers for many centuries as it has in the past.
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