Ripping Through the Veil
An analysis of identity in W. E. B. Du Bois' "The Souls of Black Folk" and Reginald McKnight's "The Kind of Light That Shines on Texas."
# 67114 | 2,600 words | 2 sources | MLA | 2004 |
Published on Jun 28, 2006 in African-American Studies (Racism) , African-American Studies (Civil Rights) , English (General)
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This paper examines W.E.B. Du Bois' concept of double-consciousness in his work "The Souls of Black Folk", which Reginald McKnight reincarnated in his classic short story, "The Kind of Light that Shines on Texas." Parallels are drawn between Du Bois' work and McKnight's. The essay reasons that McKnight's story is in fact a classic retelling of the more mature work. The paper demonstrates how McKnight expertly addressed what Du Bois refers to as "The Negro Problem" by looking at the veil from two distinctly African-American perspectives. In doing so, the paper argues, the reader comes to see the totality of Vietnam-era Texas' prejudice, as well as the psychological depth to which the notion of double-consciousness affects its black men and women.
From the Paper:"When W.E.B. Du Bois wrote "The Souls of Black Folk" in the late 1800s, America was a divided nation. While history books tend to approach the period with a "safe" analysis of the tension between north and south, Du Bois points his reader's interest towards the undeniable tension between black and white. Considering the numerous advances that America made since the Reconstruction in terms of its foreign policy, infrastructure, and economy, one would expect that social equality would have followed suit. Stepping into Reginald McKnight's short story, "The Kind of Light That Shines on Texas," we see just how little time has ameliorated the problem of racism. The short story seems unmistakably informed by Du Bois' narratives; we see many threads in McKnight's work that refer to Du Bois' concept of double-consciousness, a "sense of always looking at oneself through the eyes of others, of measuring one's soul by the tape of a world that looks on in amused contempt and pity... two souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings; two warring ideals in one dark body, whose dogged strength alone keeps it from being torn asunder" (11). McKnight offers us two characters stricken by Du Bois' notion of double-consciousness: our narrator, Clint Oates, and his working-class schoolmate, Marvin Pruitt."
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