Discussion Topics

(Masterpieces of American Literature)

James Weldon Johnson chooses not to use dialect in his poems. What reason might there be for such a choice?

In what way is the title The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man misleading?

What controversial social phenomenon does Johnson expose in The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man? Explain.

In what ways does The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man implicitly question the nature of segregation and discrimination?

Johnson’s poem “Brothers” suggests a subtle kinship between the white man who lynches and the black man who is lynched. Explain.

In what ways is Johnson’s diverse, many-faceted life atypical of that of most African Americans of his day?

The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man is a part of a long tradition of autobiography in African American literature. Explain.