Life on the Color Line

by Gregory Howard Williams

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What social concepts are evident in Williams' narrative?

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The original question had to be edited.  The most striking social concept that is evident in the narrative is how life changes for Williams when he is socially deemed as "White" and when he is deemed as a person of color.  Williams is still the same person.  Yet, social construction is painfully evident in this realm.  When society perceives him one way, doors open and opportunity becomes evident.  When society perceives him in another, there is a painful reality evident. 

Williams' narrative demonstrates how the social concept of race goes very far to define one's consciousness.  Williams does recognize that he has the power to define his own narrative, so race is not shown to define him entirely.  Yet, the social construct of race that is shown causes reflection in the reader.  The question as to how society constructs the issue of race and the people within it, those who "live on the color line," resonates in the reader's mind.  The social definition in terms of skin color plays a brutal role in the reality of those who "live on the color line."  Williams' narrative goes far in reflecting how this is evident in the course of the novel.  

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Examine the presence of psychological concepts in Williams' narrative.

I think that one of the strongest psychological constructions of racism in Williams' narrative is how race impacts the individual view of self.  This holds profound psychological impact on the young Williams.  Having to change his name, live in a different part of town, and, all the while, continue to reexamine his own sense of self are examples of the realities that the issue of race causes within the individual's psyche.  This psychological condition tears at Williams socially who finds rejection from White society because he is not one of them and also from Black society because he is not perceived to be one of them, either.  The lack of solidarity has a profound psychological impact on the young Williams.  

There is a condition of liminality that race has on Williams from a psychological point of view.  This becomes where race's impact on one's psychology is evident.  Constantly navigating the valences of acceptance and ostracizing is where Williams' psychological makeup becomes impacted by race and the social implications of racial identity.  As an adolescent already seeking to understand himself, race is shown to add an intricate ambiguity to how Williams defines himself and his condition of living "on the color line."

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