Life on the Color Line

by Gregory Howard Williams

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In Life on the Color Line, what events or people contributed to William's success?

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Gregory Howard Williams through his memoir, Life on the Color Line is able to reveal the irrational thought behind racially-based decisions. He does not question his ethnicity nor need to assert his position until he is thrust into a life that is contradictory to everything he knows. Essentially, the boy does not change and yet the perception of others does. Williams will defy this theory by using his challenges to develop his self-worth.

Fortunately, his father, a drunk and abuser, does have some redeeming features and has obviously passed on his more than average intelligence to Gregory (who thought his name was Billy). The lessons Gregory learns and the positive influence of Miss Dora all contribute to his ultimate success.

Williams knows he can be more than his father ever was and has a determination and spirit that ensure that his self image remains untarnished and his work ethic undeniable.   

The disappointments, especially when they are racially motivated, such as his promising school career being cast aside on the revelation that he is a "colored" boy, serve to reveal the groundless and illogical issue of race. Williams does not attempt to offer his own philosophy only the facts. Life is harder for some than others and sheer hard work and determination must overcome hardship in his world.

Even the return of his mother and the so-called "opportunity" to be accepted in the "white" world once more is not enough to interrupt his drive to succeed in spite of her.

Williams acknowledges that everyone makes a choice and, although he understands that it's not so easy for others, won't sit back or dwell on missed opportunities and he, with a positive attitude, chooses to dream of a bright future.  

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