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Ulterior Motives inThe Autobiography of and Ex-Coloured Man

            James Johnson ends his book, "The Autobiography of and Ex-Coloured Man" with a paragraph containing the statement, "[these men] are men who are making history and a race. I, too, might have taken part in a work so glorious."(211) These words are meant to be taken in the context of reflection of the "author" on his past life experiences - experiences which are both amazing and numerous. The autobiography guides the reader through humble beginnings, prodigy-like talents, life threatening adventures, and enough travel to fill two lifetimes. A strange life, this surely is. However, this journey is so completely remarkable that the reader tends to question its validity. Surely a life that is so complex and satiated with events lends a quality of fiction to its words. Should this be the case, there must be an ulterior motive to that of recount and recall. One theory could be that of an educational goal over a narrative one. If the work is not factual, then perhaps it is exemplary of lessons to be taught. Glimpses of strong opinion and lecturer style appear throughout the book. Chapter 2 begins with a long passage dealing with the disparities that cause problems between black and white men. On pages 74 through 78, a discussion on the Negro class system is introduced. Furthermore, Chapter 7 goes into a dialogue about "the club" that extends beyond commentary to adopt an educational element. Should this be the case , should the author's intent be more instructional than biographical, then one must examine the instances of tutorial to uncover the true intentions behind "The Autobiography of and Ex-Coloured Man". For example, the beginning of chapter 2 includes the statement, "[the black man] is forced to take his outlook on all things, not from the view-point of a citizen, or a man, or even a human being, but from the view-point of a coloured man."(21) This, surely, is not an instance of recall, but a tool to implement his educational intentions.

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