Blacks Passing as White in "The Garies and their Friends" by Frank J. Webb

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The novel The Garies and their Friends is a realistic examination of the complex psychology of blacks who try to assimilate through miscegenation and crossing the color barrier by “passing as white.” Frank J. Webb critiques why blacks cannot pass as being white through the characters Mr. Winston and Clarence Jr. At the beginning of the novel, Mr. Winston is introduced as a slave who eventually was sold because his master died. Mr. Winston met up with Mr. Garie someone he used to work on a plantation. In a conversation with Mr. Garie, Mr. Winston said he will not return to New Orleans and said that “since [he] been in the North [he] met none but whites. Mr. Garie replied: I must tell you…if you should settle down here, you’ll have to be either one thing or other—white or colored. Either you must live exclusively amongst colored people, or go to the whites and remain with them. But to do the latter, you must bear in mind that it must never be known that you have a drop of African blood in your veins, or you would be shunned as if you were a pestilence; no matter how fair in complexion or how white you may be. Mr. Garie was basically was saying that if Mr. Winston ever spoke of him being African American he would not do well in the society. This is the beginning of Frank J. Webb proving that blacks cannot pass as white. Mr. Winston said that he “have not as yet decided on trying the experiment, and…hardly think it probable [he] shall.” Mr. Winston knew if he tried to pass as being white in the North it would not work because except him and probably would try to kill him (Webb 41). Clarence Jr. was another character who had parents who were of mix race and when they were killed he was forced to pass as being white. Mr. Balch t... ... middle of paper ... ...ass her house just to see her face. When he met back up with his sister Em, he asked her to mail a letter to Little Birdie stating to come and visit him because he had been very ill. When Little Birdie received the letter she immediately went to visit him but unfortunately, when she arrived at his home he died. Frank J. Webb allows us to see that blacks cannot pass as being white. Blacks would have to avoid their black friends like Clarence Jr. did. It seems like Clarence Jr. and Mr. Winston did not feel bad at first for trying to pass as white. Eventually, they knew that trying to pass as white in the North would be a bad idea, especially for Clarence Jr. He practically killed himself trying to keep a secret from his fiancée and family. Trying to pass as white would not work out for blacks and they should just be who they are and not someone they want to be.

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