The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man

Intent and Significance of Irony in “The Autobiography of an Ex- Colored Man” College

The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man by James Weldon Johnson divulges aspects of passing by a “mulatto” man that no other novel had confronted before. Though most novels during the time were treated by the author in a straightforward manner, Johnson undoubtedly strays away from that to produce an intricate portrayal of a mixed-race man. The narrator’s treatment of race, being that he is able to pass as both black and white, taints colour lines through the uncertainty of his identity. As a result, Johnson forms a complex speaker who is ironic in many cases by symbolizing a meaning that he does not perceive. The theme of irony, which is broadly understood to be a gap between what seems to be true and what is actually true, runs the through the novel not only as he discusses his upbringing but also as he concludes with his adulthood. It is unknown whether Johnson, by including irony in many circumstances, has done so in order to communicate with the reader, but it can be implied that through its inclusion, a deeper significance can be extracted. Having done so being aware or unaware of his intentions, the irony of the novel symbolizes a level of racial ambiguity within the life of the narrator through his lacking of a stable...

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