In her essay investigating the psychic ramifications of passing, Kathleen Pfeiffer argues that Johnson in his novel proposes a psychic national unity based neither on racial opposition nor on sustaining the power of white rule, but on a mutual collective recognition of the artificiality of racial distinctions, and that the ex-colored man's ability to move between races challenges race's role in cultural identity by shifting the source of identity from the group to the individual (405).\n At the close of the novel, having been to a meeting featuring Booker T. Washington and others of that small but gallant band of colored men who are publicly fighting the cause of their race, he writes that [b]eside them I feel small and selfish. Because he abandons precisely those values that he would admire and praise in others - accepting contingency, loyalty to one's group however arbitrary and difficult, and most fundamentally, courageously pushing one's luck - the ex-colored man feels remorse and shame: he is embarrassed to be the kind of man he has become, if only in the way he sees himself in his "fast yellowing manuscripts" (154).
"A Negro's Chance":
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""A Negro's Chance": Ontological Luck in The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man"Please download to view full document