What do you think Griffin meant in Black Like Me when he said, "I had tampered with the mystery of existence, and I had lost the sense of my own being"?

In this passage, Griffin means that in trying to pass as a black man, he has tampered with his natural appearance and therefore tampered with nature itself. In doing so, he has lost his sense of self because the image he now sees in the mirror is so unlike how he had come to think of himself all his life before.

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In this particular passage, John Griffin is providing us with his first startling vision of his passing self. As a white man who's been passing for black to get a better understating of the condition of African Americans in the South, Griffin is shocked at what he sees when he...

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In this particular passage, John Griffin is providing us with his first startling vision of his passing self. As a white man who's been passing for black to get a better understating of the condition of African Americans in the South, Griffin is shocked at what he sees when he looks at himself in the mirror.

He sees the shoulders, face, and head of a complete stranger. What's more, he feels like he's imprisoned in the flesh of that stranger; an unsympathetic stranger at that, someone with whom he feels no kinship, natural bond, or connection. All previous traces of John Griffin have been wiped from existence, and it disturbs him deeply. As a result of his superficial transformation into an African American he's effectively become two men in one body.

In passing as an African American, Griffin now realizes he has been "tampering with the mystery of existence", meaning that he's been messing around with nature. As a result, he has become two people instead of one—a white person and a black person—which in turn has caused him to lose his own sense of being. The John Griffin of old has effectively been rendered invisible, covered up by a mask of blackness which does not truly reflect his nature.

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