Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison

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Invisible Man is a novel written by Ralph Ellison that delves into various intellectual and social issues facing African-Americans in the mid-twentieth century. Throughout the novel, the main character struggles to find out who he is and his place in society. He undergoes various transformations, notably his transformation from blindness and lack of understanding in perceiving society (Ellison 34). To fully examine the narrator’s transformation journey, several factors must be looked at, including the Grandfather’s message in chapter one, Tod Clifton’s death, the narrator's expulsion from college, and the events in the factory and the factory hospital (Ellison 11). All these events contributed enormously to the narrator finding his true identity. The narrator’s father, who was freed from slavery after the civil war, leads a quiet life. On his deathbed, the narrator’s bitter grandfather advises the narrator’s father to undermine white people and “agree’em to death and destruction” (Ellison 21). The old man deemed meekness to be treachery. Despite the old man’s warnings, the narrator believes that genuine obedience can win him respect and praise. However, this is not entirely right because while the whites reward him with a calfskin briefcase, he is made to engage in a humiliating battle royal and the rush for imitated gold coin in an electrocuted rug. The respected whites in his town also do not hesitate to angrily show their disgust for him. The narrator often played roles that he was not aware of. When he joins college, he is not aware that the likes of Mr Norton use the students as a means to an end but not the need to empower them. He is also at the center of masterminding the fall of Harlem orchestrated by the likes of Jack without realizing. For Sylbi and the white woman he sleeps with, he is not aware of the role he is playing; rather he sees the relationship as a means to gain something. In this novel, Ralph Ellison developed a very strong idea through the main character, who is struggling to search for his identity.

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