An Ex Colored Man's Moments Of Being Essay

1773 WordsOct 5, 20178 Pages
An Ex-Colored Man’s Moments of Being Of the many concepts Virginia Woolf has made in her works, the idea of “moments of being” in her autobiography, “A Sketch of the Past,” is of special interest because of its possible applicability to other works of literature which focus on the composition of life. After reading the fictitious “Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man” by James Weldon Johnson, one could wonder how Woolf’s concept is evident or not so evident in Johnson’s narration in order to test the concept’s applicability. Well, Johnson’s moments of clarity or “being” seem to be reminiscent of Woolf’s own “moments of being” in the way their senses interacted with the memories and the manner with which those memories are presented,…show more content…
So, the memory presents first with a visual cue where the principal walks in and commands, “I wish all of the white scholars to stand for a moment” (Johnson 14). It is important to notice that preceding this sentence is the acknowledgment that he does not remember why the principal requested this action of the students. The fact that Johnson does not remember a motive parallels Woolf’s not remembering who spoke the occurrence at the dinner table. Both Johnson and Woolf instead focus on the words themselves that were spoken. There is the dominance of the auditory sense. Immediately after this, there is another line that directly addresses the narrator which states, “you sit down for the present, and rise with the other” (Johnson 14). It is reasonable the narrator remembers this particular line because of the use of the word “you.” This powerful pronoun in combination with the command single him out and place him in another dichotomy known as the “others.” It appears that this combination also dumbfounds the narrator greatly as if he had just been rammed violently by these words. All he could muster was the single word “Ma’am?” (Johnson 14). Once again, the teacher repeats the command and the narrator remembers especially that she does so with a softer voice. Despite the fact the spoken words were said this way, this barrage of words nonetheless once again battered the
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