The speaker refers to "we" throughout the poem. Who is we?

Expert Answers
price7781 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The “we” in “We Wear the Mask” by Paul Laurence Dunbar is the African American who has been oppressed by white society. Because of racism, discrimination, and stereotyping, Dunbar maintains that blacks must wear a mask that hides who they really are and their true feelings.  Outwardly, they grin and lie to white society who feels they must act a certain way in order to fit in.  Underneath the mask, is a human being who is not accepted or understood because of the color of their skin.  The mask blacks must wear in order to navigate white society leads to “tortured souls” and unhappiness. The idea of this “double consciousness” first proposed by W. E. B. Dubois suggests that blacks act (and talk) one way in their own communities, and in order to survive, they must act differently in white society.  This dual role blacks must play causes them to wear an imaginary mask that shows happiness but hides their tears and sorrow for not being accepted in society.

Read the study guide:
We Wear the Mask

Access hundreds of thousands of answers with a free trial.

Start Free Trial
Ask a Question