W.E.B Dubois’ Theory on the “Double Consciousness” & Conflict/Radical Marxist Theory as It Applies to the Novel – a Lesson Before Dying

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W.E.B DuBois’ Theory on the “Double Consciousness” & Conflict/Radical Marxist Theory as it applies to the Novel – A Lesson Before Dying

DuBois’ theory on the “Double Consciousness” states, “After the Egyptian and Indian, the Greek and Roman, the Teuton and Mongolian, the Negro is a sort of seventh son, born with a veil, and gifted with second-sight in this American world,--a world which yields him no true self-consciousness, but only lets him see himself through the revelation of the other world. It is a peculiar sensation, this double-consciousness, this sense of always looking at one's self through the eyes of others, of measuring one's soul by the tape of a world that looks on in amused contempt and pity. One ever feels
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This is what Grant struggles with, it’s not that he feels inferior or unequal – it’s that he knows he’s equal, if not better than those who see him as below. How can one be a man in a society where he is not considered one? This is Grant’s real struggle and this struggle also exists in other characters throughout the book. The most significant example of the double consciousness theory appears in the beginning of the book, between Chapters 1 -3. “What justice would there be to take this life? Justice, gentlemen? Why, I would just as soon put a hog in the electric chair as this.” In Chapter 1, Jefferson’s defense attorney tries to gain sympathy from the jury by comparing Jefferson to a hog. Jefferson is deeply disturbed by this comparison. His own defense attorney, someone who is suppose to be on his side, even views him as no more than an animal. Jefferson begins to view himself through the eyes of society, and proceeds to behave like a hog – refusing to speak and picking through his food. It appears that society’s view of him has finally taken its toll, and he began to believe his own worth was, indeed, no more than a worthless hog. Miss Emma sees this, and the impact of the lawyer’s words. She realizes that she must do everything in her power to ensure that Jefferson dies like a man, a man with dignity, a black man with dignity. Jefferson’s choice to die

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