We Wear the Mask, written in 1886 by Paul Lawrence Dunbar, is a ubiquitous poem that has a copious amount of interpretations; nonetheless, one of the most prevalent interpretation of the poem is that of Paul Dunbar’s background. Paul Dunbar was an African American who grew up during the time of slavery; consequently, We Wear the Mask is conceived to be written as an exemplification of the grievances faced by African Americans, during the period of slavery. Though We Wear the Mask was written over a century ago and for a reason – life for African American, during the period of slavery – it can be applied to numerous social situations faced in our present society; one of them being domestic abuse – one being treated with cruelty or violence by a spouse or family member who is supposed to protect him/her from the evils of the world.
We Wear the Mask illustrates how humans don on masks to shield horrid emotions or situations that are being experienced in order to be perceive as ...view middle of the document...
Although adults in relationships are the main focus of the domestic abuse, children also fall a victim to domestic abuse, especially mentally. Children, who are victims of domestic abuse, are forced to lie at an early age. For each injury they accumulate, they have a lie ready at their lips: “I fell”, “I got hurt in the playground”, and “I scratched myself”. Children watch their friends live in happy household, and since they are excluded from a life similar to that, they feign it in the eyes of the public. Because of their horrid life and violence they are subjected to, children mentally fabricate a life that is appeasing to them and their friends, and as time goes on they crave to believe their own lies. “We smile, but, O great Christ, our cries to thee from tortured souls arise”’ children go to school pretending to be normal and happy, only to return home to the heinous truth of their life, and so they cry because they feel so trapped: they feel trapped in their own situation, and they feel trapped because to them escape is mere fantasy.
“We wear the mask that grins and lies, It hides our cheeks and shades our eyes, -- This debt we pay to human guile” talks about how people pretend to be who they aren’t just to please the people they love, the people they call friends. Gays and lesbians are perfect examples because they have to pretend every day of their lives. Some of them go to the extent of getting married and having kids and being unhappy because they are not leaving their lives, they are just living to please society; they are wearing the “mask”.
Kids are being bullied in school for the fact that they are different [gay or lesbians] they are being awarded a different punishment whenever they commit or break any laws. They are being called names and ignored. Amongst all of these, they still have to pretend to be okay, have to pretend and stand tall even though they are dying deep inside. The poem is a revelation of what the gays and lesbians are going through today. They put on such charade not because they like it but because they want to be accepted by the society. They “wear the mask” every day, to school, to work, to family reunion, to everywhere.