Du Bois dedicates a whole chapter to the story of John Jones, a fictional character arguably representative of late 19th century Southern black men as a whole. John grows up in Altamaha in Southeast Georgia, and begins the story as a hard-working and cheerful young man unaware of the reality of racial oppression. The black community in which John grows up sends him to Wells Institute, where he struggles as a student and grows embittered as he learns the truth about racism and comes to feel the presence of the Veil. John returns to his hometown with hope of helping the black community, only to be shunned by both black and white people. At the end of the story, it is hinted that he is about to be lynched. John’s story can be interpreted in multiple different ways, and Du Bois leaves the central message deliberately ambiguous. On one level, the story is a kind of bildungsroman (coming-of-age tale), a story of a young black man moving from a place of innocence to crushing awareness of racism. It is unclear, however, what moral the reader should take away from this tale. John’s story ends in bitterness, failure, and a violent death, yet this narrative is arguably not a warning against pursuing knowledge and striving for justice, but rather an honest—and pessimistic—exploration of what it means to be a black person in the US.