W.E.B. Du Bois: Crossing the Veil
Throughout the essays of The Souls of Black Folk, W.E.B. Du Bois writes with a fierce, didactic tone that embodies the spirit of the African American during the beginning of the twentieth century. There are also moments of an almost soft, narrative that doesn’t only show the soul of Du Bois, but the souls of all black folk. To be black and American during this time period poses a great struggle to find one’s true identity within the real world. Du Bois asks the question, “How does it feel to be a problem” (Du Bois, 37)? The question shows the division Du Bois sees within himself that is given to him by the real world. It is this contrast with society and culture that Du Bois focuses his attention on throughout the entire book of The Souls of Black Folk.
A motif that is seen throughout the book is Du Bois metaphor of wearing “a veil”. The veil itself is symbolic of the tearing of the veil in the temple in the New Testament. But why would Du Bois use this metaphor to illustrate the lives of black folk and their relationship with white Americans? He reveals that the culture of white Americans is still embodied in the idea to fall back into mindset when slavery was still in place. And the same goes for African Americans. A “veil” has been created within society that strips people of their wholeness and is replaced by a double-consciousness (38). This sudden two-ness, as it is described allows Du Bois to see not only through his world, but also through the eyes of the other world. It is the world in which culture deems black Americans to be untrustworthy and inferior. It is possible that Du Bois, by referring to this biblical metaphor, could be trying to reveal that through human relations there is a way toward higher Divine relations. Allowing everyone to look beyond the veil and to live in a culture where there is no veil at all. It could be the beginning of the idea where people go through life with true happiness and higher...
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