A Hero's Journey


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  • His Mission
  • His Color
  • The Hero
  • In an effort to discover how a typical Negro life goes, without the influence of propaganda. Th only way to do this was for him to become Negro. "The only way I could see to bridge the gap between us was to become a Negro. I decided I would do this"(Griffin 1).
  • His Tests
  • Blacks
  • Griffin describes (in detail) the process that he went through in order to pigment his skin to look like a Nigro. "I got the prescription filled, returned to the house and took the tablets. Two hours later I exposed me entire body to ultraviolet rays from a sun lamp"(Griffin 6).
  • His Helpers
  • John Griffin is the hero in this story. This is how he describes himself after going through pigmentation. "...the face and shoulders of a stranger–a fierce, bald, very dark Negro–glared at me from the glass. He in no way resembled me"(Griffin 10).
  • His Encounters
  • Throughout his journey Griffin is tempted to go back to being a white man."[I realized] that a few days earlier I could have gone in and ordered anything on the menu...though I was the same person...no power on earth could get me inside this place for a meal"(Griffin 42).
  • When Griffin meets a Negro shoe shiner, they quickly become friends. Sterling helps him decode the truth about the Negro condition. He explains that the treatment of a Negro completely depends on the area. "I walked to the same shoeshine stand in the French Quarter that I had been visiting as a white man. My friend Sterling Williams sat on an empty box on the sidewalk"(Griffin 22).
  • "The rots and the freshness combined into a strange fragrance–the smell of poverty. For a moment I knew the intimate and subtle joys of misery"(Griffin 113). These are the thoughts of Griffin as he lay in a room, freezing, with many children from a poor family. This family shows him the lowest of the low, and they help him understand how they got there.
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