Ellison's Use Of Symbolism In Invisible Man By Ralph Ellison

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The use of symbolism throughout Battle Royal, the first chapter in Ralph Ellison’s novel “Invisible Man,” reveals and reifies Ellison’s view of the hindering influence that racism has had on individual identity among the black race. The narrator’s struggle at attempting to deliver his graduation speech to prestigious white men is equally representative of African Americans’ struggle to develop a self-assured identity, apart from that of a slave, among a racist society of superior whites.
The narrator’s grandfather is essential to the story as he admits that he considers himself a traitor for obeying whites. It is unclear as to whether his grandfather believes himself a traitor to his own identity, his family or his entire race. He encourages
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The white men view the black men, blindfolded inside the ring, as animals. The white men force them to act as so in order to justify their stereotypical ideas of black men – senseless, violent creatures. The blindfolds that the black men are forced to wear represent their blindness to the strength that comes with unity. The black men are strong enough to turn against the white men, to fight for their rights and dignity, but instead they turn against one another. They are angry with one another, blaming their race for the injustice they all face, when in reality the whites are at fault. The blindfolds that the white men force the black men to wear allow the identities of the black men to be assaulted, without regard or awareness of the damage. The narrator, however, is temporarily able to “see” the objectification of his race and the white men’s exploitation of blacks, but has not yet figured out how to “see” behind the surface of things – the shroud set up by white society. He is unable to realize the big problem and accept the fact that blacks will never be considered equal to whites. However, by pretending to be blind, the narrator assumes the role of a fighter for his race’s betterment in society. He cheats the white men and holds onto his identity – unintentionally following his grandfather’s teachings of…show more content…
America may be forgetful of the past, but it exists nonetheless and is somehow still “present” among blacks. The narrator in “Invisible Man” is a representation of an African American whose identity is defined by white society. His dream clues at his dubious attention to the awards genuine importance, but he is not yet aware of its deceptive nature. He does not yet know that he is an invisible man, denied the right to search for his own identity as a human being in a racist society ruled by white
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