The Poem "We Wear the Mask" may reveal why he so often chose to write of the black man as a happy-go-lucky creature of the plantation:
Why should the world be over-wise,
In counting all our tears and sighs?
Nay let them only see us, while
We wear the mask.
From "The Crowded Years: Paul Laurence Dunbar in History" in A Singer in the Dawn: Reinterpretations of Paul Laurence Dunbar. Ed. Jay Martin. New York: Dodd, Mead & Co., 1975. Copyright © 1975 by Jay Martin.