Questions for James Weldon Johnson’s Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man (1912):
- Why does Johnson call this text an autobiography when it is, in fact, a novel?
- What do you make of Johnson’s original title for this novel, “The Chameleon”?
- What is the role of music in the protagonist’s life? How does it shape his identity, especially his racial identity?
- How is the protagonist shaped by his childhood experiences?
- What is the role of chance in the novel?
- How does Johnson hearken to earlier African-American genres such as the slave narrative?
- How would you characterize the relationship between the protagonist and the white millionaire?
- Do you think the protagonist has “sold out” by deciding to live as a white man? Why or why not?