Invisible Man Essay: Values of the Invisible Man

analytical Essay
1283 words
1283 words

Values of the Invisible Man

Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man is the story of an educated black man who has been oppressed and controlled by white men throughout his life. As the narrator, he is nameless throughout the novel as he journeys from the South, where he studies at an all-black college, to Harlem where he joins a Communist-like party known as the Brotherhood. Throughout the novel, the narrator is on a search for his true identity. Several letters are given to him by outsiders that provide him with a role: student, patient, and a member of the Brotherhood. One by one he discards these as he continues to grow closer to the sense of his true self. As the novel ends, he decides to hide in an abandoned cellar, plotting to undermine the whites. The entire story can be summed up when the narrator says "I'm an invisible man and it placed me in a hole- or showed me the hole I was in...." During the novel, the narrator comes to value several intangibles that eventually help to shape his identity. Through his experiences and the people he has met, the narrator discovers the important value of his education, his invisibility, and his grandfather's advice.

From the very beginning of the novel the narrator values his education. His education first brings him a calfskin briefcase, when the superintendent rewards him for his success, saying "Take this prize and keep it well. Consider it a badge of office. Prize it. Keep developing as you are and some day it will be filled with important papers that will help shape the destiny of your people." The narrator treasures the briefcase so much because it symbolizes his education. He carries it throughout the whole novel, and it is the only object he takes into the cellar fro...

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...ture and History. 1996 ed.

Kelly, Robin D.G. "Communist Party of the United States." Encyclopaedia of African-American Culture and History. 1996 ed.

Internet Sources:

Bellow, Saul. "Man Underground" Review of Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man.

Commentary. June 1952. 1st December 1999< /50s/bellow-on-ellison.html

Earl, Gerald. "Decoding Ralph Ellison" Essay obtained from Summer '97. 30 November. <

Howe, Irving. "Black Boys and Native Sons" English Dept. at Univ. Penn. 1 December 1999 <

Howe, Irving. "Review of: Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man" Pub. The Nation. 10 May 1952. 30 November 1999. <

In this essay, the author

  • Analyzes how ralph ellison's invisible man is the story of an educated black man who has been oppressed and controlled by white men throughout his life.
  • Analyzes how the narrator values his education from the very beginning of the novel, as it brings him many rewards.
  • Analyzes how the narrator grasps the value of invisibility when he takes on the identity of rhinehart and realizes that it is advantageous to be unseen.
  • Analyzes how the narrator plans his return to society, when he will carry out his plan to fight against whites.
  • Opines that the advice the narrator receives from his grandfather is the final, and perhaps the most significant of his values.
  • Opines that after i'm gone, they want you to keep up the good fight. live with your head in the lion's mouth.
  • Analyzes how the narrator grasps the advice in chapter 24, after tod clifton's funeral and after the brotherhood betrays him. this new understanding leads him to develop a new plan.
  • Analyzes how the narrator values education, invisibility, and his grandfather's advice, which helped him survive and succeed.
  • Describes kelly, robin d.g., and encyclopaedia of african-american culture and history.
  • Cites howe, irving, "black boys and native sons" from the english dept. at univ. penn.
  • Cites howe, irving, "review of: ralph ellison's invisible man" pub. the nation, 10 may 1952.
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