Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man

Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man

by

James Weldon Johnson

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The Narrator’s Wife / The Singer Character Analysis

A blonde-haired, “dazzlingly white” singer who meets the narrator when he is already living as a white man but still playing ragtime. He loves her voice, she loves his piano playing, and they soon begin a relationship—but the narrator realizes he has to tell her about his original racial identity, and she leaves New York for a summer when he does so, only to return and agree to marry him anyway. In this phase of the narrator’s life, his wife is the only person who knows his secret; they have a relatively happy marriage and she dies giving birth to their second child.

The Narrator’s Wife / The Singer Quotes in Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man

The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man quotes below are all either spoken by The Narrator’s Wife / The Singer or refer to The Narrator’s Wife / The Singer . For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Racism and the Color Line Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the W.W. Norton edition of Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man published in 2015.
Chapter 11 Quotes

“I understand, understand even better than you, and so I suffer even more than you. But why should either of us suffer for what neither of us is to blame for? If there is any blame, it belongs to me and I can only make the old, yet strongest plea that can be offered, I love you; and I know that my love, my great love, infinitely overbalances that blame and blots it out. What is it that stands in the way of our happiness? It is not what you feel or what I feel; it is not what you are or what I am. It is what others feel and are. But, oh! is that a fair price? In all the endeavors and struggles of life, in all our strivings and longings, there is only one thing worth seeking, only one thing worth winning, and that is love. It is not always found; but when it is, there is nothing in all the world for which it can be profitably exchanged.”

Page Number: 107
Explanation and Analysis:
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The Narrator’s Wife / The Singer Character Timeline in Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man

The timeline below shows where the character The Narrator’s Wife / The Singer appears in Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 11
Racism and the Color Line Theme Icon
Music, Emotion, and American Culture Theme Icon
Secrecy, Purity, and Origins Theme Icon
One night, at a musical party, the narrator fell in love with a singer , “the most dazzlingly white thing I had ever seen.” He mainly loved her voice... (full context)
Racism and the Color Line Theme Icon
Collective Progress and Individual Achievement Theme Icon
Secrecy, Purity, and Origins Theme Icon
...him “and let drop no word that would have aroused suspicion as to the truth.” The singer joined in the chatter, and the ex-colored man “was surprised at the amount of interest... (full context)
Racism and the Color Line Theme Icon
Secrecy, Purity, and Origins Theme Icon
As the narrator played Faure’s 13th Nocturne for the singer one night, he was overcome with “a wave of exaltation” and proclaimed his love for... (full context)
Racism and the Color Line Theme Icon
Music, Emotion, and American Culture Theme Icon
Secrecy, Purity, and Origins Theme Icon
The whole summer, the singer did not write to the narrator; he began to despair and lose all energy. Even... (full context)
Racism and the Color Line Theme Icon
Secrecy, Purity, and Origins Theme Icon
The narrator and the singer married the next spring and spent a few months in France. They had a daughter... (full context)