The Autobiography Of An Ex-Colored Man By James Weldon Johnson

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In many books there are characters that you love, hate, and then some that you don’t have a particular opinion about. It could be because they aren’t around in the books enough, or it could be because their bad actions and their good actions cancel each other out. These characters are called ambiguous characters. In “The Autobiography of An Ex-Colored Man”, by James Weldon Johnson, the father can be seen as an ambiguous character. This is caused by the good things he does, like coming to see his son when he was young, buying his son a piano, giving his son the gift of not having to deal with racism until he is a bit older, and granting his son a way out of the African American lifestyle. However, the father also does a lot of wrong like not …show more content…

After the father’s last visit to the narrator’s house, he never came to visit again because he was getting married to a white woman to start a new family (Johnson 30). This caused the narrator to have self-esteem problems. His father abandoning him because of his ethnicity made him self conscience and made him turn away from his racial background many times. Also recalling how his father would only come visit him at night had the same effect. He states that there is nothing he couldn’t do except “be seen on the street with a white woman, eat at a white restaurant, or be acknowledged in public by his white father” (American Dreams). To the narrator, having a black and white parent made him “incapable of functioning” in the heavily segregated southern society (Andrews 40). He said he didn’t want to be black because he didn’t want to be associated with “people that could with impunity be treated worse than animals”, but he also didn’t want to be white because it was the white people who abandoned him (Andrew 40). Throughout his adult life, the narrator fights a battle between “raceless personal comfort and race conscious service” (Smith 418). Adding to the narrator’s problems, when he is traveling with his millionaire friend, he sees his father at an opera house with his wife and his daughter. The narrator expresses his feelings of “desolate loneliness” in the situation by saying that he had to “restrain himself from screaming to the audience that in their midst is ‘a real tragedy’(98)” (Reader’s Guide). He loses all respect for his “runaway father” when he realizes that he was abandoned because of his race (Analysis). But, even with his hate toward his father for abandoning him, he turns toward the white community for safety. He invests in real estate in New York city, begins to identify as white, marries a white woman, and raises his children “on the white

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