I live my life a rebel, a vigilante, devils try to get at me

Essay by kincaid3College, Undergraduate May 2014

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Zachary Kincaid

Anne Flanagan

English 102

4 May 2014

I live my life a rebel, a vigilante, devils try to get at me

Intro:Paul Laurence Dunbar was an African-American poet, novelist, and playwright of the late

19th and early 20th centuries. Born to parents who had been slaves in Kentucky before the Civil

War, Dunbar started to write as a child and was president of his high school's literary society. He

published his first poems at the age of 16 in a Dayton newspaper. I've only read one of Dunbar's

poems but I know Dunbar's work is known for its colorful language and a conversational tone,

with a brilliant rhetorical structure. I love Dunbar's poem "We Wear the Mask." One of the most

important features in the poem "We Wear the Mask" is of diction because of the way Dunbar

speaks in the poem you wouldn't think it's a black man in 1896.

The poem starts with "We wear the mask that grins and lies, It hides our cheeks and

shades our eyes," and it means a grin and a lie go well together. If you're going to deceive, you

may as well look pleasant. The tension generated by the juxtaposition of two dissociated images

continues throughout the poem. It is allusive of the idea, made popular by W.E.B. Du Bois, that

black people must develop a double consciousness. "This debt we pay to human guile;" Line 3

tells us that the people wearing these masks owe it all to human deceit. Lying is inevitably a part

of daily life and the people have to lie and wear a mask to hide their tortured souls. The use of

the word "human" makes this relate to all of humanity who suffers but are forced to hide their

suffering. There were...