Black Skin, White Masks

by

Frantz Fanon

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Frantz Fanon Character Analysis

Frantz Fanon is the author and the narrator of Black Skin, White Masks. Born in Fort-de-France, Martinique, Fanon was the student of Aimé Césaire, whose work he both praises and critiques in the book. Fanon moves to France during the Second World War, during which he fights to liberate France from the fascist Vichy Regime. He writes Black Skin, White Masks while in France, though he spends most of the rest of his life in North Africa. Fanon is a psychiatrist and draws on his own psychiatric research in writing the book. However, much of the evidence he provides about people’s psychology does not actually come from official case studies but rather his own anecdotal observations and his readings of works of literature. Furthermore, Fanon’s most important “case study” in Black Skin, White Masks is arguably himself. Fanon writes about his own psychological and emotional life in starkly honest terms, describing his searing anger at racial injustice and the sense of alienation he feels as a result of colonialism. Although he refuses to provide any sort of artificial resolution to the book or the problems he outlines in it, Fanon does show that by refusing the racist demand to desire whiteness and by embracing his own blackness, he is able to feel less estranged from himself and gain a vision of a better world.

Frantz Fanon Quotes in Black Skin, White Masks

The Black Skin, White Masks quotes below are all either spoken by Frantz Fanon or refer to Frantz Fanon . 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:
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). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Grove Press edition of Black Skin, White Masks published in 2008.
Introduction Quotes

All it needs is one simple answer and the black question would lose all relevance.
What does man want?
What does the black man want?
Running the risk of angering my black brothers, I shall say that a Black is not a man.

Related Characters: Frantz Fanon (speaker)
Page Number: xii
Explanation and Analysis:

Less commonly he [the “educated black man”] wants to feel part of his people. And with feverish lips and frenzied heart he plunges into the great black hole. We shall see that this wonderfully generous attitude rejects the present and future in the name of a mystical past.

Related Characters: Frantz Fanon (speaker)
Page Number: xviii
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 1 Quotes

All colonized people––in other words, people in whom an inferiority complex has taken root, whose local cultural originality has been committed to the grave––position themselves in relation to the civilizing language: i.e., the metropolitan culture.

Related Characters: Frantz Fanon (speaker)
Page Number: 2
Explanation and Analysis:

When an Antillean with a degree in philosophy says he is not sitting for the agrégation because of his color, my response is that philosophy never saved anybody. When another desperately tries to prove to me that the black man is as intelligent as any white man, my response is that neither did intelligence save anybody, for if equality among men is proclaimed in the name of intelligence and philosophy, it is also true that these concepts have been used to justify the extermination of man.

Related Characters: Frantz Fanon (speaker)
Page Number: 12
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 2 Quotes

Hatred is not a given; it is a struggle to acquire hatred, which has to be dragged into being, clashing with acknowledged guilt complexes. Hatred cries out to exist, and he who hates must prove his hatred through action and the appropriate behavior. In a sense he has to embody hatred.

Related Characters: Frantz Fanon (speaker)
Page Number: 35
Explanation and Analysis:

Both the black man, slave to his inferiority and the white man, slave to his superiority, behave along neurotic lines. As a consequence, we have been led to consider their alienation with reference to psychoanalytic descriptions.

Related Characters: Frantz Fanon (speaker)
Page Number: 42
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 3 Quotes

Out of the blackest part of my soul, through the zone of hachures, surges up this desire to be suddenly white.
I want to be recognized not as Black, but as White.
But––and this is the form of recognition that Hegel never described––who better than the white woman to bring this about? By loving me, she proves to me that I am worthy of a white love. I am loved like a white man.
I am a white man.

Related Characters: Frantz Fanon (speaker)
Page Number: 45
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 4 Quotes

I did not want to be objective. Besides, that would have been dishonest: I found it impossible to be objective.

Related Characters: Frantz Fanon (speaker), Octave Mannoni
Page Number: 67
Explanation and Analysis:

The Malagasy no longer exists… the Malagasy exists in relation to the European. When the white man arrived in Madagascar he disrupted the psychological horizon and mechanisms.

Related Characters: Frantz Fanon (speaker)
Page Number: 77
Explanation and Analysis:

The Frenchman does not like the Jew, who does not like the Arab, who does not like the black man. The Arab is told: 'If you are poor it's because the Jew has cheated you and robbed you of everything." The Jew is told: 'You're not of the same caliber as the Arab because in fact you are white and you have Bergson and Einstein." The black man is told: 'You are the finest soldiers in the French empire; the Arabs think they're superior to you, but they are wrong." Moreover, it's not true; they don’t say anything to the black man; they have nothing to say to him.

Related Characters: Frantz Fanon (speaker)
Page Number: 83
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 5 Quotes

I came into this world anxious to uncover the meaning of things, my soul desirous to be at the origin of the world, and here I am an object among other objects.

Related Characters: Frantz Fanon (speaker)
Page Number: 89
Explanation and Analysis:

Shame. Shame and self-contempt. Nausea. When they like me, they tell me my color has nothing to do with it. When they hate me, they add that it’s not because of my color. Either way, I am a prisoner of the vicious circle. I turn away from these prophets of doom and cling to my brothers, Negroes like myself. To my horror, they reject me. They are almost white. and then they'll probably marry a white woman and have slightly brown children. Who knows, gradually, perhaps . . .

Related Characters: Frantz Fanon (speaker)
Page Number: 96
Explanation and Analysis:

Two centuries ago, I was lost to humanity; I was a slave forever.

Related Characters: Frantz Fanon (speaker)
Page Number: 100
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 6 Quotes

In Europe and in every so-called civilized or civilizing country the family represents a piece of the nation. The child leaving the family environment finds the same laws, the same principles, and the same values. A normal child brought up in a normal family will become a normal adult. There is no disproportion between family life and the life of the nation.

Related Characters: Frantz Fanon (speaker)
Page Number: 121
Explanation and Analysis:

Since the racial drama is played out in the open, the black man has no time to "unconsciousnessize" it. The white man manages it to a certain degree because a new factor emerges: i.e., guilt. The black man's superiority or inferiority complex and his feeling of equality are conscious. He is constantly making them interact. He lives his drama. There is in him none of the affective amnesia characteristic of the typical neurotic.

Related Characters: Frantz Fanon (speaker)
Page Number: 129
Explanation and Analysis:

Still on the genital level, isn't the white man who hates Blacks prompted by a feeling of impotence or sexual inferiority? Since virility is taken to be the absolute ideal, doesn't he have a feeling of inadequacy in relation to the black man, who is viewed as a penis symbol? Isn't lynching the black man a sexual revenge? We know how sexualized torture, abuse, and ill-treatment can be. You only have to read a few pages of the marquis de Sade to be convinced. Is the black man's sexual superiority real? Everyone knows it isn't. But that is beside the point. The prelogical thought of the phobic has decided it is.

Related Characters: Frantz Fanon (speaker)
Page Number: 129
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 7 Quotes

The Antillean does not possess personal value of his own and is always dependent on the presence of "the Other." The question is always whether he is less intelligent than I, blacker than I, or less good than I. Every self-positioning or self-fixation maintains a relationship of dependency on the collapse of the other.

Related Characters: Frantz Fanon (speaker)
Page Number: 186
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 8 Quotes

Intellectual alienation is a creation of bourgeois society. And for me bourgeois society is any society that becomes ossified in a predetermined mold, stifling any development, progress, or discovery. For me bourgeois society is a closed society where it's not good to be alive, where the air is rotten and ideas and people are putrefying. And I believe that a man who takes a stand against this living death is in a way a revolutionary.

Related Characters: Frantz Fanon (speaker)
Page Number: 199
Explanation and Analysis:

My final prayer:
O my body, always make me a man who questions!

Related Characters: Frantz Fanon (speaker)
Page Number: 206
Explanation and Analysis:
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Frantz Fanon Character Timeline in Black Skin, White Masks

The timeline below shows where the character Frantz Fanon appears in Black Skin, White Masks. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Introduction
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Fanon begins with a quote from Discourse on Colonialism by the Martinician writer Aimé Césaire, which... (full context)
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Fanon’s aim is to “liberate the black man from himself.” He refuses to sympathize with the... (full context)
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Fanon argues that it is essential to use psychoanalytic thought in order to understand black experience.... (full context)
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...the relationship between black people and white people has created “a massive psycho-existential complex” that Fanon aims to “destroy” through analysis. He is aware that many people—both black and white—will not... (full context)
Chapter 1: The Black Man and Language
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Fanon places huge importance on language. He argues that black people exist in two modes: one... (full context)
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...“correct” pronunciation of the French language to a degree that is at times almost comic. Fanon would like to see a study of the way that black people’s psychological state changes... (full context)
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Fanon reemphasizes the way that returnees from France speak in a new language, and points out... (full context)
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Fanon brings up the common stereotype that black men are like children, but argues that the... (full context)
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Fanon speaks from a position of curiosity and inquiry. He knows that the history of black... (full context)
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When Fanon speaks to a non-French white person who has only a limited command of French, he... (full context)
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...supremacy (particularly if they are reading authors who challenge existing power structures, such as Marx). Fanon notes that some Antilleans who return from France continue to speak Creole and deliberately try... (full context)
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...that Césaire has a command over the French language unmatched by any white person, and Fanon comments that if this is true, it shouldn’t really be surprising considering Césaire is “a... (full context)
Chapter 2: The Woman of Color and the White Man
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Fanon argues that real love requires freedom from the conflicts in our unconscious. In this chapter,... (full context)
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...become white herself. However, she is not accepted by white society because of her race. Fanon considers ideas that associate whiteness with virtue and beauty, and blackness with the earth, the... (full context)
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...Mayotte have been taught to believe that their race will be saved by becoming whiter. Fanon personally knows many female Martinican students in France who swear they will never marry a... (full context)
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Fanon considered submitting a version of Black Skin, White Masks as his thesis for medical school;... (full context)
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Fanon wonders if black people can overcome the feelings of “abasement” that have been instilled in... (full context)
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Fanon considers the nature of white Europeans’ feelings about black people, arguing that it is actually... (full context)
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...Nini feels upon hearing news of a different biracial woman, Dédée, marrying a white man. Fanon notes: “Overnight the mulatto girl had gone from the rank of slave to that of... (full context)
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...is the result of seven years of psychiatric experiments and observations, which have proven to Fanon that both white people and black people suffer from neuroses related to their imprisonment within... (full context)
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Fanon will refer to the work of three theorists in order to build an impression of... (full context)
Chapter 3: The Man of Color and the White Woman
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Fanon argues that black men desire white women because, through being loved by a white woman,... (full context)
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...like a European. That’s why it’s only normal for you to love like a European.” Fanon notes that although Coulanges has given his permission for Jean to marry Andrée, he does... (full context)
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...men. Historically, black men who were caught having sex with white women would be castrated. Fanon notes that Antillean men newly-arrived in France tend to be obsessed with the prospect of... (full context)
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Fanon returns to analyze Jean Veneuse using Germaine Guex’s book The Abandonment Neurosis. Guex argues that... (full context)
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...permanently in the position of “the Other” (or at least so it seems to him). Fanon adds that the abandonment neurotic can never feel certain of another person’s love, even if... (full context)
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Fanon emphasizes that Jean Veneuse’s feelings about white women are not inherent to the condition of... (full context)
Chapter 4: The So-Called Dependency Complex of the Colonized
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...Aimé Césaire about how every person is implicated in the torture and humiliation of others. Fanon explains that this chapter will cover the French psychoanalyst Octave Mannoni’s book The Psychology of... (full context)
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...Mannoni argues that the psychological complexes that exist in colonized people have existed since childhood. Fanon objects to the idea that neuroses caused by colonialism pre-exist colonialism itself. He declares that... (full context)
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Fanon argues that wealthy people encourage anti-Semitism among the less well-off because the rich benefit from... (full context)
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...Mannoni claims that “European civilization and its best representatives are not responsible for colonial racism.” Fanon argues that this statement is false. In reality, every member of a certain nation or... (full context)
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Fanon concludes that “it is the racist who creates the inferiorized.” This echoes Jean-Paul Sartre, who... (full context)
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...divided into white and black, and then sought to achieve equality with white men. However, Fanon points out that prior to colonization, Malagasy people had a coherent sense of their own... (full context)
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...reemphasizing the idea that colonized people’s feelings of inferiority and dependency were instilled through colonization. Fanon comments that when he is treating black patients, he must not consider their psychological experiences... (full context)
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...haunted, chased, or attacked by black people (or black animals that symbolically represent black people). Fanon admits that after first moving to France, he was shocked to learn that North Africans... (full context)
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...people who are different from them inhabit worlds of their own, which must be respected. Fanon concludes by reiterating that it is the colonizers who instill the “feeling of inferiority” in... (full context)
Chapter 5: The Lived Experience of the Black Man
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The chapter begins with two exclamations: “Dirty nigger” and “Look! A Negro!” Fanon notes that such phrases turn black people into objects. After hearing them, he wants the... (full context)
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...cut off from their own bodily experience, forced to view themselves “in the third person.” Fanon considers the cumulative effect of hearing a child on a train shout: “Look! A Negro!”... (full context)
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Fanon runs through all the negative stereotypes and fears about black people, before writing that the... (full context)
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...are constantly fearful of confirming anti-Semitic stereotypes, and that this fear corrupts their personalities. Yet Fanon points out that it is possible for Jews to hide or downplay their Jewishness, and... (full context)
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At the time Fanon is writing, there are many black doctors, teachers, and priests, so it might seem to... (full context)
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Examining the way that science has been used to justify racism in the past, Fanon exclaims: “Science should be ashamed of itself!” He then returns to the comparison between anti-black... (full context)
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Fanon includes quotations from Césaire’s Notebook of a Return to My Native Land, the central text... (full context)
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...because they are at an earlier stage of human development. Yet from his own reading Fanon knows that there were advanced black civilizations that long preceded the colonial period. Fanon quotes... (full context)
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Fanon moves on to quote Sartre’s critique of the fact that followers of Négritude tend to... (full context)
Chapter 6: The Black Man and Psychopathology
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Fanon states that it is time to assess whether psychoanalysis offers useful insight into black people’s... (full context)
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Fanon argues that black people do not fit into this model because “normal” black people who... (full context)
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Fanon suggests that the solution to this widespread psychological damage is “collective catharsis.” All societies need... (full context)
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Fanon argues that white families preserve and replicate society’s values and overall “structure.” He repeats the... (full context)
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...phobias are the result of an early trauma having to do with the mother, but Fanon questions this in the case of “negrophobia,” or fear of black people. He wonders if... (full context)
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...idea of superiority is obviously false, it remains powerful—like all phobias—precisely because it is irrational. Fanon emphasizes that we must understand psychoanalysis not in universal terms, but in the context of... (full context)
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...and sin. White people circulate absurd stories to perpetuate these racist stereotypes, including a story Fanon mentions having heard from a sex worker about a white woman who had sex with... (full context)
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Fanon notes that while his focus is on the Antilles, there are black populations living under... (full context)
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Black and Jewish people are both associated with evil within the racist white mindset, however, Fanon argues this is more acute in the case of black people. Some Jewish people internalize... (full context)
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Fanon remains optimistic that the “collective unconscious” of black people can be transformed in the future,... (full context)
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...strive toward whiteness will be reminded by white people that they are not truly white. Fanon includes more quotations from Césaire’s Notebook, in which Césaire claims that he recognized the “white... (full context)
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Fanon describes a case study that took place in a psychiatric hospital in France, concerning a... (full context)
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...men it conjured, and her siblings would exploit this fear and play drums around her. Fanon concludes that the girl’s mental instability is the result of her fear of black men,... (full context)
Chapter 7: The Black Man and Recognition
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Fanon includes a quotation by Alfred Adler arguing that neuroses are shaped around a “fictitious goal”... (full context)
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Fanon returns to Adler, arguing that Adler viewed psychology only in individual terms and that this... (full context)
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Fanon emphasizes that people understand their humanity only in relation to others, and that they require... (full context)
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Fanon argues that black people have never truly “fought” for freedom: at times they have fought... (full context)
Chapter 8: By Way of Conclusion
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Fanon begins the conclusion with a quotation by Karl Marx, in which Marx argues that revolution... (full context)
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Fanon writes that he feels a sense of “solidarity” with anyone from the past who has... (full context)
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Fanon rejects the idea of a “white world” with specifically white morality and intelligence. He also... (full context)