The Invisible Man's Identity

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Upon opening Ralph Waldo Ellison’s book The “Invisible Man”, one will discover the shocking story of an unnamed African American and his lifelong struggle to find a place in the world. Recognizing the truth within this fiction leads one to a fork in its reality; One road stating the narrators isolation is a product of his own actions, the other naming the discriminatory views of the society as the perpetrating force infringing upon his freedom. Constantly revolving around his own self-destruction, the narrator often settles in various locations that are less than strategic for a man of African-American background. To further address the question of the narrator’s invisibility, it is important not only to analyze what he sees in himself, but more importantly if the reflection (or lack of reflection for that matter) that he sees is equal to that of which society sees. The reality that exists is that the narrator exhibits problematic levels of naivety and gullibility. These flaws of ignorance however stems from a chivalrous attempt to be a colorblind man in a world founded in inequality. Unfortunately, in spite of the black and white line of warnings drawn by his Grandfather, the narrator continues to operate on a lost cause, leaving him just as lost as the cause itself. With this grade of functioning, the narrator continually finds himself running back and forth between situations of instability, ultimately leading him to the self-discovery of failure, and with this self-discovery his reasoning to claim invisibility.

The society in question is refuses to reciprocate the equality envisioned by the narrator and without any intention of compliance continually uses this man to their own advantage. It is not only this exploitation, b...

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...ver a true definition of identity and his own real identity, he is still as naïve and as gullible as he was at the beginning. He is the “same human individual, [seen] [differently] only in appearance” (Griffon 161). Every person who he had encountered had held a unique perception of him and even if that is not how he had desired to be perceived it is his own actions that originally driven them to that belief. Yes, he still has a unique identity of his being held in his core, but it is just as real as the identity that others hold around him but only relevant by the existence of belief. Identity is a tool only relevant to those who use it, if man functioned away from society then identity becomes pointless, illogical. Yet as the Narrator chooses to live as a part of society, he is still solely responsible for creating the path that serves to define him negatively.

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