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We Wear the Mask

We Wear the Mask

by Paul Laurence Dunbar

We Wear the Mask Questions

Bring on the tough stuff - there’s not just one right answer.

  1. What's unique about the rondeau form, and how does this particular style contribute to the poem's message?
  2. How do symbols—like masks and smiles—help illuminate the poem's themes? Why is it necessary for the speaker to repeat them throughout the poem?
  3. What's up with the speaker's rhetorical question in the second stanza? What's he really saying here?
  4. How do the biblical allusions in the third stanza help emphasize the speaker's emotional conflict?
  5. What about the ambiguity of the word "we?" Why do you think the speaker chooses to omit any specific identifiers?

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