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AN ANALYSIS OF THE DETRIMENT OF PASSING IN JAMES WELDON JOHNSONS 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 narrators 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 1900s 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 Williams 2 effects When a black person is fair skinned his chances for passing as white are higher than a darker skinned black person The protagonist is a fair-skinned individual thus capable of passing
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