Critical Analysis: Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man Essay example

Critical Analysis: Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man Essay example

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In Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man, we are presented with an unnamed narrator whose values and potentials are invisible to the world around him. Throughout the entirety of the novel, we see the unnamed narrator, also known as the Invisible Man, struggle in an attempt to uncover his identity buried beneath African American oppression and an aggregation of deception. Ellison shows us how lies and deceit may serve as a grave but invaluable obstacle to one’s journey to find their identity. Through the use of imagery, symbols, and motifs of blindness along with invisibility, Ellison portrays the undeniable obstacle that deception plays in one’s ability to establish their identity along with the necessity of it.
Within the opening chapter, the Invisible Man is invited to a gathering of “all the town’s big shots [who] were there in their tuxedos, wolfing down the buffet foods, drinking beer and whiskey and smoking black cigars” to share with them his renowned graduation oration (Ellison 17). It was a chance for him to finally show the men who held power just who he was and what he was capable of, it was a chance for him to establish his identity. However, shortly after his arrival, the Invisible Man was informed that “since [he] was to be there anyway [he] might as well take part in the battle royal to be fought by some of [his] schoolmates as part of the entertainment” (Ellison 17). On a night he believed to be of the utmost importance and grandeur, a night where he could establish himself and discover his identity, he was simply being used for sickening entertainment. All of the students were blindfolded, placed into the ring like wild animals with no identity. “Blindfolded, [the Invisible Man] could no longer control [his] emoti...


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...ible Man to encounter them along his journey. Each illusion and lie the Invisible Man is faced with is vital to the development of his identity.



Works Cited

Ellison, Ralph. Invisible Man. New York: Random House, Inc., 1952. Print.
Jarenski, Shelly. "Invisibility Embraced: The Abject As A Site Of Agency In Ellison's "Invisible Man.." Melus 35.4 (2010): 85-109.Academic Search Premier. Web. 6 Feb. 2014.
Noble-Goodman, Stuart. "Mythic Guilt And The Burden Of Sin In Ellison's Invisible Man." Midwest Quarterly 39.4 (1998): 409-431.Sociological Collection. Web. 24 Fed. 2014.
Singer, Marc. "A Slightly Different Sense Of Time": Palimpsestic Time In Invisible Man." Twentieth Century Literature 49.3 (2003): 388-419. Academic Search Premier. Web. 23 Feb. 2014.
Thomas, J. D. "Ellison's INVISIBLE MAN." Explicator 65.1 (2006): 42-44. Academic Search Premier. Web. 6 Feb. 2014.

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