Sleep Fictions: A Digital Companion


For Ben, the only way to achieve lasting rest in the woods is to run away. And in that respite he must also suffer alienation and loneliness. In The Souls of Black Folk (1903),* W.E.B. Du Bois captures the suffering that results from society's framing of industry and toil as completely antithetical to rest and recuperation for Black men.

DuBois fears that, for Black Americans, "the contact of Life and Sleep be Death" (88) and later in the collection, he poignantly writes: 
"If one must have gone, why not I? Why may I not rest me from this restlessness and sleep from this wide waking? Was not the world's alembic, Time, in his young hands, and is not my time waning? Are there so many workers in the vineyard that the fair promise of this little body could lightly be tossed away? The wretched of my race that line the alleys of the nation sit fatherless and unmothered; but Love sat beside his cradle, and in his car Wisdom waited to speak. Perhaps now he knows the All-love, and needs not to be wise. Sleep, then, child,--sleep till I sleep and waken to a baby voice and the ceaseless patter of little feet--above the Veil" (214).


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