Theme and Message

Table of contents


The short story “On Being Crazy” by W. E. B. Du Bois explores the theme of madness. The theme is hinted at from the title, which suggests that the story is going to be a commentary about the concept of madness. 

The story reveals that white people believe the “social equality” (p. 1, l. 5) that the narrator tries to advance is an act of madness. The white people believe that black people are inferior to them. Therefore, they deny the narrator access to different locations and humiliate him by treating him as an inferior individual. The white people are shocked and even squirm in their seats (p. 1, l. 8) when they find themselves in the narrator’s company. They feel personally attacked by his presence and their exaggerations illustrate the madness behin...

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