Light and Truth in Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man

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Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man tells of one man's realizations of the world. This man, the invisible man, comes to realize through experience what the world is really like. He realizes that there is illusion and there is reality, and reality is seen through light. The Invisible Man says, "Nothing, storm or flood, must get in the way of our need for light and ever more and brighter light. The truth is the light and light is the truth" (7). Ellison uses light as a symbol for this truth, or reality of the world, along with contrasts between dark/light and black/white to help show the invisible man's evolving understanding of the concept that the people of the world need to be shown their true ways. The invisible man becomes aware of the world's truth through time and only then is he able to fully understand the world in which he lives.

The invisible man first starts to undergo realizations of reality after his expulsion from the college and his arrival in New York. Here he gains his first employment at Liberty Paints. His job consists of mixing pitch black paint with white paint to form the company's "Optic White" paint. The paint itself provides a symbol for the world in which the invisible man is living. The society tries to assimilate the black culture (black paint) into the white culture (white paint) creating in the end an "Optic White" solution where the blacks have conformed to the whites. The invisible man notes how the black drops spread out on the white paint saying, "I measured the glistening black drops, seeing them settle upon the surface and become blacker still, spreading suddenly out to the edges" (200). This correlates to blacks spreading in society, only to be "mixed-in" to form a white solution. The invisib...

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...e. Towards the end of the meeting, Brother Jack's fake eye falls out of its socket, showing the Invisible Man that his leader was the blindest of them all. His leader was truly in the dark, unable to see the light of the world around him.

The prologue shows the invisible man's full realizations of the truths of the world. After all that he has been through, the Invisible Man understands what reality is? For this reason, he keeps his home lit luminously with 1,369 light bulbs showing that his home knows the truth.. The Invisible Man says, "My hole is warm and full of light" (6). His home knows truth because of the experiences he's been through. The world has allowed the Invisible Man to fully understand what the world around him is really like. He lived the first part of his life in complete darkness, but he is determined to live the rest of it in the light.
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