The Souls of Black Folk

The Souls of Black Folk Essay Questions

  1. 1

    How does the existence of "double consciousness" and "the veil" affect W.E.B. Du Bois' own experience as an African-American?

    Du Bois realizes that the veil exists when he is very young. Every one of his experiences, after his encounter with the Veil for the first time in Massachusetts, is within the shadow of the veil. As a father, the veil affects not only him but his infant son; his son's golden hair symbolizes the oppression from which he flees. Furthermore, his argument against Booker T. Washington also demonstrates his ability to not only understand the black experience, but also provide a way in which to overcome it, which is through education and acknowledgment of oppression. Du Bois' own position as an academic and a sociologist could not exist without the "double consciousness" and "the veil".

  2. 2

    How did slavery affect the economic condition of the freedman in the United States?

    During slavery, the African-American was not able to win any wages as he was essentially the property of the white mastery. He could also not gain any skills aside from the ones that were needed on the plantation. Thus, upon being emancipated, he was left with no slavery, no property, no home, and no viable skill. This setback resulted in a low economic position for the African-American; as it was necessary to have black teachers to teach black students, education was also difficult to attain.

  3. 3

    How does Du Bois' position within society make him a credible, or less-credible, analyst on the Southern African-American condition?

    Du Bois is well-equipped to discuss the experience of the African-American in the United States. He, as an African-American, was subject to the prejudices that many other African-Americans had also experience. However, since his experiences commenced in integrated schools in Massachusetts, it was not possible for him to provide a fully accurate analysis on the condition of the African-American in the Northern United States. However, as he had never been subject to the perils and evils of slavery and had been the recipient of educational privilege and opportunity, his analysis was rooted in elitism.

  4. 4

    How does the Black Belt serve to stratify the people who live within it?

    In the Black Belt, the main currency used was cotton. As such, monetary currency was not used by any of its inhabitants, and the only crop that was grown in this geographical area was cotton. After many years of enslavement, the black population was not able to garner any wages. Through the use of cotton as currency, the black population continued to receive no currency and accrue no wealth. Therefore, the use of cotton resulted in stratification.

  5. 5

    How can The Souls of Black Folk be used to examine racial relations in the 21st Century?

    In the 21st Century, the color-line continues to be a persistent problem. While African-American and new immigrant groups were granted the right to vote, the segregation of neighborhoods persist. While the country has attempted to establish integrated programs and schools, there is still de-facto segregation. This results in different neighborhoods and segregated public schools.

  6. 6

    How does enfranchisement ameliorate the black man's life?

    Throughout the collections of essays, W.E.B. Du Bois argues that the right to vote is important. This is because a group with no political representation is still, essentially, enslaved. It is difficult to understand the experiences of the black man or their sentiment as a group if they are not allowed sovereign rights. If they were, however, they would be able to vote not only for social programs, but also for political representation.

  7. 7

    How does education change the African-American, according to Du Bois?

    Before blacks were educated, they were first slaves, and then emancipated freed men. Their experience with life was one of oppression. However, after pursuing education, the black man is no longer ignorant to the unnecessary injustices he has faced. Instead, he is empowered with information that will allow him to free his mind from slavery.

  8. 8

    How did the Freedmen's Bureau come to be?

    The Freedmen's Bureau was established by a soldier who realized that the enlisting of fugitive slaves posed a difficulty for the American government. When these fugitives enlisted, they often did so with their women and children, who at the time, could not serve in the army. At that time, the government was one that did not allow benefits for women and children of fugitive slaves. The Freedmen's Bureau was then created so that the government could study the lives of these families.

  9. 9

    To what argumentative end does Du Bois provide a historical account of African-American history?

    Du Bois provides a historical account of the plight of African-Americans to enable the reader to fully understand the difficulties faced by this group in the 19th and 20th Centuries. Without this historical backgrounds, it would not be possible for one to understand the development of the veil, or double consciousness. As a black man who had not had these experiences, this historical account also allowed Du Bois a way in which to understand how his personal experience compared to the rest of the United States'.

  10. 10

    Why does Du Bois make the reader ride with him in the Jim Crow Car?

    For most of the book, it is obvious that Du Bois hails from privilege. When he rides through the Black Belt and Atlanta, however, he asks the reader to ride with him at the Jim Crow Car, so that the reader can experience the South through the Veil. The Car, therefore, is not just a symbol of institutionalized segregation, but also a symbol of the Veil. He does this in an attempt to get the reader to fully understand the social nuances of the South.