Compare And Contrast Artificial Nigger And The Artificial Nigger

716 Words3 Pages
When an author writes any type of work, they tend to focus on certain aspects such as theme, setting, genre, and character development. These key features mold the story or work in to what the author intends it to be. Sometimes, readers do not immediately see what the author intended, while sometimes it is blatant. The world of literature is very broad, although many works can share common themes, settings, and other literary features even though they were published in very different time periods. A perfect example is “The Artificial Nigger” published in 1955 by Flannery O’Connor, and “The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man” published in 1912 by James Weldon Johnson. These two literary works share a common theme of racism, and in each story…show more content…
Nelson, the child main character, is completely oblivious to what race is in the beginning. Nelson’s grandfather, Mr. Head, seems to always state racist comments, and he asks Nelson a few times if he has ever seen a nigger. Nelson, like any other young child, tries to act like he has, when in fact he does not even know what a “nigger” looks like. While on the train, Mr. Head points to an African American man and asks Nelson if he knows what type of man it is. Nelson replies with innocent remarks about the man’s stature and age, but he says nothing about the man’s skin tone. Mr. Head is completely set off by what he calls “ignorance”. In this moment in the story, O’Connor shows that racism is not innate in people. Instead, it is something that is taught by others. Nelson does not know white from black, which shows innocence and equality. This notion is quickly squashed when his grandfather adds the label of “nigger” to a man with brown skin. When the black man walks away and Nelson believes it is to make a fool of him, Mr. Head’s unrealistic ideas of black folk being bad immediately consumes Nelson. O’Connor uses the theme of racism to carry the rest of the story. Other pivotal moments are when Mr. Head disrespects the black worker, and when Nelson and Mr. Head get lost in a black neighborhood in Atlanta. Racism is the key theme that motivates this story. Even though it was…show more content…
In the beginning of the story, the narrator, like Nelson, has no notion of what race is. The narrator, again like Nelson, is shows complete innocence when it comes to race. Although the narrator is black by blood but white by skin tone, he does not find out he falls under the “black” label until his teacher points it out. When the narrator learns the difference between black and white is one of the most pivotal moments in Johnson’s story. Upon learning about the “difference” between blacks and whites in school, the narrator immediately starts to speak using racial slurs, and he adopts misconceptions about blacks from those around him, just like Nelson. Throughout the rest of the story, the narrator struggles to find which identity he would like to adopt since he can pass as black or white. The narrator finds out he constantly faces racism when he chooses to identify himself as “black”, and decides it is easier to identify as white. The theme of racism is the driving element behind Johnson’s work, just like it is for

    More about Compare And Contrast Artificial Nigger And The Artificial Nigger

      Open Document