Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Black Man

Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Black Man

In Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Black Man the author James Weldon Johnson tells the story of a black man passing as a white man. That is the major theme in this novel; "passing  in the early 1900's in order to escape the horrors of racism towards the black race to succeed in white America.

The crisis throughout the novel centers on the ex-colored man discovering his identity, and this uncertainty is the central idea of the novel. From 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 moustache, and let the world take me for what it would; ¦ (Chapter 10). By saying this, the ex-colored man can live his life free of fear from the white man and lead a better life than a black would.

There are many causes that lead to his reasons for passing as a white man. Many influences give the idea onto the character, that in order to be successful in life you must be white. Since the ex-colored man was well educated unlike most, of the black culture it was easy for him to adapt to the whit culture. In the book the ex-colored man experiences the good and the bad of both races and perceives them as basically equal. First the ex-colored man does not seem to favor one or the other, though the way he view the black race is expressed a little more negatively than the white, which supports his reasoning for passing as white. Witnessing the lynching of a colored man, the ex-colored man quickly responses to his idea of passing as a white man. The ex-colored man figures it's better to be on the white man side than be against him, which the ex-colored man makes a good point. I mean would anyone want to go through what the blacks went through during this time if you could pass of as a white man. But then again how would you be looked at by your own race, by your family.

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