The narrator a mulatto in James Weldon Johnson’s The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored man looks at the idea of a black man passing in White America. As the narrator who is identified as the main character tells the story he makes morally correct decisions by not letting the color of his skin define who he is or how he lives his life. He is often faced with the decision as in Chapter 4 of using his skin color to pass for another race (White). The narrator knows there is a high price to pay for passing for white. He knows that the price will outweigh the advantages.
In Johnson’s book, the narrator explained “…the United States puts a premium on color, or, better, lack of color, than upon anything else in the world” (113). Even though this may be the case, the Negro narrator passed as a white man without effort and usually without fear of being caught. His millionaire friend once told him, “My boy, you are by blood, by appearance, by education, and by tastes a white man” (105). When the narrator decided to return to his Negro roots, his millionaire friend told him, “This idea you have of making a Negro out of yourself is nothing more than sentiment; and you do not realize the fearful import of what you intend to do. What kind of a Negro would you make now, especially in the South?” (106). The narrator knows that he will have to create himself as a Negro and will actually have to “pass” as a black man. The narrator in Johnson’s book states that he wanted “to be great man, a great colored man, to reflect credit on the race and gain fame for myself” (32). His actions were wise because of the steps he took to make it through life. He did not let minor setback or race hold him back. He struggled with internal identity conflicts. He followed his heart and dreams. The narrator was able achieved many things in life. He was considered to...