Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man Book Review Essay

775 Words Nov 21st, 2011 4 Pages
Kevin Rance

HIST3102 Pratt

8 September 2011

The Autobiography of an Ex-Coloured Man Book Review

The novel, The Autobiography of an Ex-Coloured Man by James Weldon Johnson shows a story of a man with mixed blood of white and coloured. Throughout the story, the man is conflicted with his heritage, sometimes accepting his coloured heritage and at other times rejecting his coloured heritage and passing himself off as a white man. The main character travels all around the United States and Europe while observing how whites and coloureds behave separately and with each other. The nameless man goes through tough times and prosperous times his whole life and comes out with quite a few revelations.

The two themes that are very
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However, the narrator has another crisis to tackle, his self-identity.

In the United States, there are only two types of people: white and coloured. The narrator struggles with self-identification and does not know whether to call himself white or coloured. In the beginning of the novel, the narrator assumes he is white and looks down upon the coloured children whom he attends school with. However his struggle with identification starts once he learns that he is classified as coloured solely for the reason that his mother is coloured as well. He stops teasing the coloured children, but he feels a “very strong aversion to being classed with them.” For the entirety of the novel, he resists the label “coloured” and tries to find ways to distinguish himself from the rest of his people he deems inferior. When in Paris, he was identified as neither coloured nor white, but simply as an American. He could roam Paris freely and enter any business he wanted due to being treated as equal. Paris was the first time he has ever ignored the color of his skin. Life in the United States is very different for the narrator however. The treatment of the narrator in the different towns he visits
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