Blacks Passing as White in "The Garies and their Friends" by Frank J. Webb

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The novel The Garies and their Friends is a realistic examination of the complex psychology of blacks who try to assimilate through miscegenation and crossing the color barrier by “passing as white.” Frank J. Webb critiques why blacks cannot pass as being white through the characters Mr. Winston and Clarence Jr.
At the beginning of the novel, Mr. Winston is introduced as a slave who eventually was sold because his master died. Mr. Winston met up with Mr. Garie someone he used to work on a plantation. In a conversation with Mr. Garie, Mr. Winston said he will not return to New Orleans and said that “since [he] been in the North [he] met none but whites. Mr. Garie replied:
I must tell you…if you should settle down here, you’ll have to be
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White boys can go to better schools, and they can enter college and become professional men, lawyers, doctors, &c., or they be merchants—in fact, they can be anything they please. Coloured people can enjoy none of these advantages; they are shut out from then entirely. Now which of the two would you rather be –coloured or white (Webb 279)?
Clarence Jr. told Mr. Balch he would “rather be white.” Now Clarence is convinced that passing as white would be a great idea because he was told not to mention that his mother was black. When Clarence Jr. was a child, he thought that passing as white would be an easy task to do. Mr. Balch made him believe that he could become anything he wanted if he did what was asked of him. After Clarence Jr. moved away, he met a young lady by the name of Little Birdie who thinks he is white. Little Birdie and her family adores Clarence Jr. because he is a well-educated “white” man. Over the years, Clarence Jr. becomes very paranoid about being discovered by some of his old friends. He wants to go and visit his sister and friends but he said that he “can’t go there with any comfort or pleasure…each year as [he] visit the place, their ways seem more strange and irksome to [him].” He feels ashamed about what he is doing because he can’t visit his sister without avoiding her friends in public place because of their complexions. Clarence Jr. said that he “can’t be

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