The Souls of Black Folk Questions and Answers
by W. E. B. Du Bois

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What does "the vast veil" symbolize in The Souls of Black Folk?

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The "vast veil" is what separates DuBois, as an African American man, from white society. The quote is from the first chapter of The Souls of Black Folk, DuBois's most famous work, published in 1903. He begins the chapter by pointing out that even well-meaning white people are, when talking to him about race, essentially asking "How does it feel to be a problem?" DuBois describes the "veil" that allows him to see the other (white) half of society even though he cannot fully participate in it. He points out that African American men and women experience a double consciousness. They are both black and American, and systemic racism has made it so that this distinction exists. In fact, these two concepts, or identities, are at war with each other in side each and every black man and woman.

Throughout The Souls of Black Folk, DuBois returns to this metaphor , even claiming that every African American person sees themselves as if through a veil, one that does not allow them to comprehend their...

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