The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man
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The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man
James Weldon Johnson
An autobiography is a group of accounted events of the writer into one piece of literature in order to create a book. James Weldon Johnson's wrote an autobiography called The Autobiography of a n Ex-Colored Man . His autobiography contains his growth from childhood to his adulthood. He uses different writing techniques to engage the reader and maintain interest. For every book there are various ways to analyze it to get a better understanding of that text. In this text imagery and ideological structures are two concepts that allows the reader to have more critical approach to the text. James Weldon Johnson uses imagery in order to exemplify the ideological structures of society.
Imagery and wordplay is when a writer uses descriptive phrases in order to create a mental scene within the readers' mind. Not only does it just create a scene to cause interest but it also helps get a better understanding of what is occurring in the text. This would cause a connection of the reader with the text so it causes the reader to react emotionally as the text goes on. Imagery is also a way to create suspense or to emphasize on a specific point. Most autobiographies contains some type of imagery and James Weldon Johnson is not an exception.
The Autobiography of a n Ex-Colored Man paints vivid pictures with the imagery and wordplay that the author Johnson uses. The book begins with Johnson's childhood in Georgia. Johnson had a colored mother and a white father. However he didn't know his mother was white before he attended school. His furthest memory of his childhood is when he lived with his mother and would occasionally get a visit from a white man. This white man was soon exposed as his father. "A tall man with a small, dark mustache. I remember that his shoes or boots were always shiny, and that he wore a gold chain and a great gold watch with which he was always willing to let me play". His father was white and even though he soon left them he still didn't completely shut Johnson out of his life. The imagery used by the author explains how white men were always dressed well. Wearing shiny boots and gold jewelry to show how his father a great man and was wealthy.
Johnson was never aware of his race until he went to school where he first experienced racism. Afterschool he would see a crowd of white people following the colored people saying "Nigger, nigger, never die, Black face and shiny eye". Johnson uses this wordplay to show how during that time period the colored people would be tormented even at a young age. The children even gave a person the nickname "Shiny" because they would say that his skin was so black that his teeth, and eyes appear shinier. This nickname lasted for a while and Shiny got used it. Johnson uses this example of wordp lay to show how the children would torment this child because of his pigmentation and he wouldn't care because from a young age he was bothered so as he got older he would accept this insult.
As time went on Johnson soon went to the same high school as Shiny. At the graduation, Shiny arose as a successful colored man. He sung and demanding the respect for his talent from his peers despite how they felt of his color, "When... his voice, trembling with suppressed emotion, rose higher and higher it was like touching an electric button which loosed the pent-up feelings of his listeners. They actually rose to him". Shiny finally got the acceptance that he deserved. Even though the racist thoughts within the white people would remain, they could not deny his talent and would have to respect it. This was a turning point for Johnson's life. During his high school years he didn't know what race he wanted to acknowledge. Johnson was able to pass as a white person however, when he experienced this event he faced a turning point. This epiphany caused him to want to represent his color and give back to his race.
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