African American Literature

African American Literature

Amy Goldich

In his Autobiography of an Ex-colored Man, James Weldon Johnson explores the meaning of “passing” in an American society. The reader never learns the name of the narrator in the novel, but you learn that it?s of little importance. The crisis throughout the novel centers on the narrator discovering his identity. At times the narrator regrets his failure to the black race, he says, ? I am an ordinary white man who has made a little money. ? They are men who are making history and a race.? (p.861) But this uncertainty is the heart of the novel, classifying human beings merely by the color of skin is impulsive and arbitrary. While revealing his decision, the ex-colored man disregards his black race and misrepresents his strong uniqueness. There are many causes that lead to his development to ?pass?. (All subsequent quotations come from The Norton Anthology, African American Literature.)
There are many causes that may have led the central character to ?pass?; one example reflects on his upbringing. His mother tells him, “The best blood of the South is in you,” (p.784) when the narrator asks whom his father is. Clearly, his mother was proud

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