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The Souls of Black Folk

In The Souls of Black Folk, W. E. B. Du Bois expresses what it was like to live as a black man in early twentieth-century America. In the chapter included here, he introduces readers to his concept of the veil, a metaphor that captures how the conflict of racism is experienced at the interpersonal level. After reading the excerpt, answer the following questions.


1. Du Bois starts the chapter by recounting a story of when he was a boy. What happened, and what point is Du Bois trying to make with this story?

2. What does Du Bois mean by “double-consciousness” and how does this concept play out in his own experience?

3. Think back to Simmel’s concept of the “stranger” and the dual qualities of nearness and distance that the stranger possesses. Do you see any similarities between Simmel’s “stranger” and Du Bois’s notion of “double-consciousness”? How about differences?

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