The Soul of Black Folk and Up From Slavery The turn of the 19th century was a time in American history that brought with it major economic, cultural, and political changes. The Reconstruction era and Gilded Age had ended with rising influential Jim Crow laws, which made a clear division among the American population. The publishing of Booker T. Washington’s, Up from Slavery and W. E.
B. Du Bois’s, The Souls of Black Folk both occurred in the early 1900’s when oppression of the black race in America was known internationally. The two men’s novels are both persuasive writings that questioned the land they lived on. The similarities and differences in Washington and Du Bois’s novels can be evident through their individual writing style, belief systems, and life experiences. First, the two novels took on a completely different style when being put together for the publication. Booker T. Washington’s story is a chronological retelling of his life from his birth as a slave in Virginia until his return to Virginia as a speaker.
His tale was written in the first person and surprisingly it seemed to have an overall happy mood throughout its entirety. However, there was the occasional letter inserted in the story from friends, family, or important people all of which Washington would comment on. On the other hand, there is Du Bois’s novel that is actually a collection of essays and stories he compiled during the turn of the 19th century, and rarely goes into his life before becoming an educated man. They are all reflections of his life, and the point of view jumps around from first to third in a better attempt to have the reader fully understand what it meant to be an African American during the time period.
Moreover, all of the chapters begin with a famous quotation and then musical lines of an African American song. The verses and songs in a way seem to sum up of the chapter before it is even read, for they can relate to each specific story Du Bois tells. Though, both of the stories display different writing techniques, they both are important primary sources about the struggles African Americans endured. Next, these two prominent figures of black history had their own believes and answers to the problems of an oppressive society. Washington believed that the best interests for blacks of this time can be obtained through education in the crafts and industrial skills. He wanted his fellow brothers and sisters to temporarily abandon the fight for political power and full civil rights, and further educate themselves of their industrial and farming skills.
Then, their self-made economic security would slowly win the acceptance and respect of whites, and would break the barrier between the two races. Overall, Washington emphasized that education is the key and is how the post-slavery chains will be removed from himself and people. His goal was to persuade others by the example his own life set. However, a completely different outlook on how to answer the race problem was given by Du Bois.
Du Bois was completely against Washington’s way of solving the problem and has a whole chapter about it within his novel. He believed that the educated blacks should unite in their fight for rights, and demand them instead of accepting what they are given. For an educated man can question the institution of segregation placed upon their race. Du Bois’s goal throughout the story is making the status of the African American race in America known to all. He believed blacks possessed two identities when looking at themselves.
They finally had become Americans,.