Invisible Man Research Paper

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The Many Themes of Invisible Man

Ralph Ellison achieved international fame with his first novel, Invisible Man. Ellison's Invisible Man is a novel that deals with many different social and mental themes and uses many different symbols and metaphors. The narrator of the novel is not only a black man, but also a complex American searching for the reality of existence in a technological society that is characterized by swift change (Weinberg 1197). The story of Invisible Man is a series of experiences through which its naive hero learns, to his disillusion and horror, the ways of the world. The novel is one that captures the whole of the American experience. It incorporates the obvious themes of alienation and racism. However, it …show more content…

Therefore, the theme of self-realization by relying solely upon one's self is developed. The type of self-reliance that is eventually displayed by the narrator is the same type of self-reliance exhibited by such blacks as Booker T. Washington. This is something for the reader to keep in mind when exploring the episodes in which the narrator is at college (it has never been proven, but many critics think that the founder of the college was Booker T. Washington.). Although the founder of the college never appears in the novel, his success story offers many parallels to Washington's …show more content…

The passage at the beginning of chapter 13 in which Invisible Man comes out of the subway and journeys through the streets of Harlem is a prime example of this metaphor. The fight in which all of the participants are blindfolded becomes a symbol of the entire novel and of all the struggles of the narrator. The struggle and search of the protagonist take the form of trying to remove the blindfold, therefore regaining his ability to "see". While the journey of the protagonist takes the form of getting rid of his own blindfold, he eventually realizes that everyone else is blindfolded. This not only points to one of the main reasons for his invisibility but also develops irony in the novel. The blindfold also symbolizes the bonds of slavery out of which blacks of the time were slowly emerging, therefore revealing the history and development of the black struggle up to and through the 1940's. The narrator is seen as an example of this

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