Identity Essays

815 Words Feb 22nd, 2014 4 Pages
Identity
In The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man tells the first- person narration of James Weldon Johnson. This autobiography shows a contemptuous point of view about skin color. Johnson clearly expresses his way of thinking as being purely acceptable in that time period. Johnson claimed that it was “most natural” to have children with people who had lighter skin. The problem throughout the novel is a man trying to find his identity which becomes the main theme of the book. In the book, “ I finally made up my mind I would neither disclaim the black race nor claim the white race; but that I would change my name raise a mustache, and let the world take me for what I would”(Johnson 490). By saying this it meant that the ex-colored man
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Johnson’s mother made her way in the world by relating her fate to the white man she had her son by. This is why Johnson thinks that it is okay to pass for a white man. The ability for people to adapt in and “making it” in America is very essential. For an example, the Indians were immigrants and had to adapt to America rather it was against their will or not. That is why Johnson stressed his belief in either getting alone or be gone. Johnson says, “I have since learned that this ability to laugh heartily is, in part, the salvation of the American Negro; it does much to keep him from going the way of the Indian” (Johnson 418). Johnson portrays himself as being an intricate character with motives. He dreams of, “bringing honor to the Negro race” (Johnson 21) but in reality he would rather pass as a white man. One of Johnson’s friends comes to comes and influences Johnson and reassures that he is making the correct decision. “My boy, you are by blood, by appearance, by education and by tastes, a white man. Now why do you want to throw away amidst the poverty and ignorance, in the hopeless struggle of black people of the United States?”(Johnson 459). Johnson then decides to coincide with the white man. Unlike what the reader make have expected, Johnson did not have self-indulgence to be like the white man and not have any direction in life. Sadly though Johnson did not vision his

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