AN ANALYSIS OF THE DETRIMENT OF "PASSING" IN JAMES WELDON JOHNSON'S NOVEL, AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF AN EX-COLORED MAN
Is it rational for a black man to attempt to "pass" himself off as a white person? "Passing" is defined as a detrimental intermediary preventing the narrator's ability to find his identity. The narrator is tossed between living as a black or white man. What causes people to struggle between two races? There are many detrimental elements that influence people, thus causing confusion in their identity and their choice between races.
In this novel, James Weldon Johnson uses black language, but he is not renowned to the black culture. The protagonist of "The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man" by James Weldon Johnson has characteristics and habits of a white man. He is a black man, yet his skin is fair. He has adapted to the characteristics of the white man. He is an experienced musician whose social life evolves around white musicians, thus forsaking the black race.
The principal theme in the novel is the identity of race. It is associated with "blackness" in the music world. The protagonist holds tight to the American dream, which is sought by all men, and of all races. He has the hopes to move forward in his pursuit, unregulated by his color. However, he must "pass" as white in order to do this.
The protagonist became established in the white society by way of his music. It is in this society that he found comfort as an artist. Passing was a necessity for him. The novel took place in the 1900's, which was a time of prejudice against blacks. Segregation was
at its peak. The novel displays the sympathetic conditions that race brought about and its
When a black person is fair...