Author Information

Britta Gingras


In 1903, the African American intellectual and political figure W. E. B. Du Bois, in The Souls of Black Folk, introduced the concept of double consciousness. Du Bois defines double consciousness as the struggle African Americans face to remain true to black culture while at the same time conforming to the dominant white society. Du Bois writes, “It is a peculiar sensation, this double consciousness…one ever feels his two-ness, an American, a Negro; two souls, two thoughts, two un-reconciled strivings; two warring ideals in one dark body, whose dogged strength alone keeps it from being torn asunder” (Du Bois 2). Over one hundred years later, double consciousness is no longer limited to the lives of African Americans. Various ethnic Americans experience this split in consciousness while attempting to merge their specific cultural heritages with the values of dominant white society. By providing a representation of society through its characters and their interactions with the world around them, literature has been an important tool in the exploration of double consciousness. Zitkala-Ša’s American Indian Stories depicts the Native American experience with double consciousness. This essay explores the ways in which American Indian Stories displays the shift in race-thinking that has taken place over the past 100 years.

Note on the Author

Britta Gingras, from Mattapoisett, is a senior at Bridgewater State College majoring in English with a minor in U.S. Ethnic Studies. She conducted this research in the summer of 2009 after receiving the Adrian Tinsley Program Research Grant. She worked under the mentorship of Dr. Benjamin Carson. This piece is a section of the final paper.

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