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James Weldon Johnson's emotionally gripping novel is a landmark in black literary history and, more than eighty years after its original anonymous publication, a classic of American fiction. Make your own flashcards that can be shared with others.The gentleman was not "loaning" him out as a piece of property, but simply giving the narrator a broader palette to display his talents.
The narrator also chooses to withhold the name of the small Georgia town where his narrative begins, as there are still living residents of the town who might be able to connect him to the narrative.
Throughout the novel, the adult narrator from the frame interjects into the text to offer reflective commentary into the events of the narrative.
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The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man (1912/1927) by James Weldon Johnson is the fictional account of a young biracial man, referred to only as the "Ex-Colored Man," living in post-Reconstruction era America in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
He wrote openly about issues of race and discrimination that were not common then in literature.
an influential firm that published many Harlem Renaissance writers, and Johnson was credited as the author. It is drawn from the lives of people Johnson knew and from events in his life. The narrator notes that he is taking a substantial risk by composing the narrative, but that it is one he feels compelled to record, regardless.While playing ragtime at a late night hot spot in New York, the Ex-Colored Man caught the attention of a wealthy white gentleman.The gentleman's liking for ragtime develops as liking for the Ex-Colored Man himself.The Ex-Colored Man believed the desperate class consists of poor blacks who loathe the whites.The domestic worker class comprises blacks who work as servants to whites.While Johnson’s ex–colored man fails to reclaim this figure, Johnson himself did exactly that in his 1917 adaptation of Harriet Beecher Stowe’s (1852), an operatic cantata that until now has never been examined.In this text, Johnson incorporates and evolves the Old Negro into a contemporary literary tradition that challenges the racial violence of Jim Crow and celebrates black survival.He would play until the white gentleman would say "that will do." The Ex-Colored man would tire after the long hours but would continue playing as he saw the joy and serenity he brought the white gentleman.The white gentleman frequently "loaned" the Ex-Colored Man out to other people to play at their parties.During this carefree period, he taught music and attended church, where he came in contact with upper-class blacks.Living in an all black community, he discovers and describes three classes of blacks: the desperate, the domestics, and the independent workmen or professionals.