Analysis Of James Weldon Johnson's The Autobiography Of An Ex-Colored Man

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Throughout James Weldon Johnson's The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man, the narrator is constantly questioning his identity and racial background. This is seen in the beginning of the story where he just assumes he is white, but later realizes he is actually biracial. From this point on, he is constantly questioning what he is and how other people will see him. The audience can compare the narrator's journey of discovering his own race through his exploration of music from both of his identities, classical and African American music styles.

Johnson constantly displays in the novel that the narrator struggles to ever completely identify with a single race. He is constantly moving across the racial line, identifying as either or depending on the situation. As is often common with biracial people, it can be hard to ever feel comfortable with one's own identity. The narrator uses music to feel one with both of his identities, he combines his love for African American ragtime and spiritual styles as well as classical music. Through his love for music, the narrator is able to identify with both styles of music, expressing his love for music as a whole, rather than having to choose one, which he often feels torn by when it comes to race.

The narrator is introduced to
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He uses both to his advantage, being able to "pass" as both white and black. Combining the two styles of music through his search for his own identity he is able to use both forms of self to his advantage. Performing like and passing as a white man, he is able to have the woman "as white as a lily" fall in love with him when he plays Frederic Chopin, ending on a harmonic happy ending. The narrator is also able to successfully perform a ragtime, both authentic and a "ragging of the

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