Please give a summary of chapter 11 of The Souls of Black Folk.

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Chapter 11 represents the beginning of a slightly different section of this book, as Dubois moves towards a focus on the various conditions that a freed slave has to live under, revealing the significant difficulties that free black men have to cope with. Chapter 11 reveals to us a very personal and painful memory of his own life. He tells us about when his wife gave birth to a baby boy. DuBois, not wanting his son to grow up experiencing the brute realities of slavery and its dehumanising nature, had hoped that he could keep his son "within the veil" of black culture and society, so that he would grow up ignorant of the endemic racism in American society.

Unfortunately, his son dies very soon after birth. The family ventured North for the funeral, and DuBois imagines the way in which whites would have seen this funeral service. He believes that "pale-faced" observers would only have seen this as some sort of special occasion for "niggers" alone rather than a serious and tragic event commemorating the life and loss of a baby. However, DuBois, in spite of his anger, does reflect that perhaps his son was better off dead, as now he could transcend his social limitations on this earth. Even as a free black man, DuBois clearly points out the massive injustices and difficulties that characterise life.


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