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Literature Analysis of The Souls of The Black Folk by Du Bois

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Table of contents

  1. Tone
  2. Literary Devices:
  3. Rhetorical Devices

Du Bois walks through the issues of slavery, labor struggles, separation, segregation, and family life. Each chapter within the story tells a different section of life involving one of the issues. One chapter talks about the history with African Americans, then goes to labor and family life (talking about Josie and the school house), then onto social separation. Du Bois talks about these issues because they are very close to his heart, him being within these many issues.

Du Bois was an African American man in the 1800-1900s. He was within the issues and he grew up in a struggling society and he faced many issues himself. He wrote about these many issues to bring light to the problems. As Du Bois says “I pray you, then, receive my little book in all charity, studying my words with me, forgiving mistake and foible for sake of the faith and passion that is in me, and seeking the grain of truth hidden there”. This quote tells that the readers should take into account the words he wrote and the issues he is talking about. It also implies what he wrote is something he cares a lot about.


The tone of The Souls of the Black Folk is sorrowful with a hint of a neutral tone. Du Bois deals with the issues of social injustice, separation, and slavery. There were many sad stories about death, confusion, and abandonment. There is also a matter of fact tone with some analysis Du Bois accomplished. However, toward the end of the book on the very last page there is a hint of hope for the future.

The Souls of the Black Folk has a tone of sorrow and matter of fact. Toward the end it has a positive feel. The purpose of the story is to show the struggle of the social issues and the social advances. With the use of a sorrowful tone it adds to the pathos of pulling emotion. This tells the readers to continue to push forward for social advancements and to keep with tradition but make change. As Du Bois says “It was rather a choice between suffrage and slavery, after endless blood and gold had flowed to sweep human bondage away. Not a single Southern legislature stood ready to admit a Negro, under any conditions, to the polls; not a single Southern legislature believed free Negro labor was possible without a system of restrictions that took all its freedom away”. Du Bois’ added analysis of the issues of voting and labor issues. The tone word implied with this is matter of fact and persuasive. As Du Bois says “I saw the shadow of the Veil as it passed over my baby, I saw the cold city towering above the blood-red land. I held my face beside his little cheek, showed him the star-children and the twinkling lights as they began to flash, and stilled with an even-song the unvoiced terror of my life”. This quotation has a sorrowful feel. It is talking about the loss of the dearly loved child. Some tone words it applied is sad, mournful, and gloomy.

As Du Bois says “Even so is the hope that sang in the songs of my fathers well sung. Free, free as the sunshine trickling down the morning into these high windows of mine, free as yonder fresh young voices welling up to me from the caverns of brick and mortar below — swelling with song, instinct with life, tremulous treble and darkening bass. My children, my little children, are singing to the sunshine, and thus they sing”. Throughout the whole book there is sorrow and analysis. The last chapter was the songs of tradition. Du Bois talks about his father and his song. This leaves a bit of hope within the people to keep fighting. To sing the song with hope. The tone words implied is cheerful, hopeful, and pleasant.

Literary Devices:

The first literary device: allusion Provide quotation: As Du Bois says “This deep religious fatalism, painted so beautifully in “Uncle Tom, ” came soon to breed, as all fatalistic faiths will, the sensualist side by side with the martyr”. Du Bois’ use of allusion adds to his credibility within his book. He references another famous work of literature, Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Both books talk about the social issues with the African American citizens and the wrong of slavery. The references adds to the credibility because it tells that there are many other people who also care and are fighting for the issues that were occurring.

The second literary device is symbol. “And thus in the Land of the Color-line I saw, as it fell across my baby, the shadow of the Veil. Within the Veil was he born, said I; and there within shall he live, — a Negro and a Negro’s son”. Symbolism in literature a figure of speech which has a different meaning. Du Bois uses the phrase “Shadow of the veil” many times within his book. When he uses that phrase he when talking about the loss of a baby boy. He is references death as well as the significant separation.

Rhetorical Devices

The first RD is Hypophora. As Du Bois said, “What have been the successive steps of this social history and what are the present tendencies”. What does it add to the work? This use of Hypophora is to raise a question or two tell the reader what he is intending to answer. Telling the reader about the topics to come. In this specific case Du Bois will talk about history also relating to today’s society.

The second RD Anaphora Provide quotation. As Du Bois said, “it must maintain the standards of popular education, it must seek the social regeneration of the Negro, and it must help in the solution of problems of race contact and cooperation. And finally, beyond all this, it must develop men”. The use of an anaphora in the phrase allows the reader to focus on the important events that are necessary in order to heal the problems of the social separation. Du Bois tells his readers that there is a must that needs to occur, not accepting anything lower.

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