Essay on Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man and Jews Without Money

Essay on Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man and Jews Without Money

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Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man and Jews Without Money


To be a minority is a very difficult task. Fighting daily prejudices and trying to establish a unique identity that fits into society at the same time is often one of the hardest things for a “different” person to do. Deciding one’s daily activities and then watching the repercussions of those activities can be discouraging at times. In the novels, The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man, and Jews Without Money, two characters, the narrator and Herman, must fight the establish their own personal identity during a time when each are a minority.

One of the first things a person has to learn in order to find his own identity is the ability to make his own choices. He has to be able to take initiative for himself and stand his own ground. He can not let others decide what he will do. While still in Roumania, Herman’s father and another local townsman agreed to an arranged marriage between Herman and the townsman’s daughter. Herman liked the girl but did not want to marry her. However, during this period of time, it would be considered severely disrespectful to disobey this type of planning. It was at this point the Herman decided he could not let people tell him what to do any longer. While settling the contract of their marriage, Herman told his father, “…I refuse to marry this [this girl]…I am not a child any longer…” (Gold 98). From there on Herman set out to make his own choices. The narrator also made a similar choice. After the death of his mother, he was left to make the choice about his college education. His runaway father offered to pay for his college education only if he attended Harvard University, not Atlanta University the college that his ...


... middle of paper ...


...n a journey to Japan, he told his friend that he needed to go back to America and pursue a career. The narrator gave up everything in order to find his own identity. He was willing to suffer to make a place for himself in society.

Whatever the consequences may be, every person needs to have their own identity. The obstacles that one must face to grow out of a minority will eventually make a stronger person in the outcome. Herman and the narrator both grew to become stronger people. Although they were not always thought of like everyone else, they fought to make their own identities and neither were told what to do. They were their own individuals.



Works Cited

Gold, Michael. Jews Without Money. New York: Carroll & Graf Publishers, 1996.

Johnson, James Weldon. An Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man. New York:

Penguin Books, 1990.

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