Ralph Ellison’s “Invisible Man” focuses an African American living in Harlem, New York. The novelist does not name his protagonist for a couple of reasons. One reason is to show his confusion of personal identity and the other to show he is “invisible” to both himself and others. Thus he becomes every Black American who is in search of their own identity. He was a true representative of the black community in America who is socially and psychologically dominated everywhere. Blacks in the early 1900’s were excluded from society. They were ignored for their existence, invisible to prejudice eyes. For their only way to be accepted was to forge an identity and create an illusion to satisfy those eyes. The narrator is invisible to others because he is seen by stereotypes rather than his true identity. He takes on several identities to find acceptance from his peers, but eventually realizes he has no place to fit in.
His journey to self realization begins from his expulsion from Norton’s institution. The letters of recommendation given by the authority proves to be deceptive. He blindly believes the letters will offer him opportunities, but realizes he has been betrayed. His faith was shattered when he least expected it. His destiny continues after he joins a paint factory. The fight with his fellow worker results in his hospitalization. He is reborn, as a new man with a new purpose after being betrayed.
The novel is a severe social criticism which aims at an effective social reform. The race riots led by Ras the Destroyer, and the Brotherhood is at war. The narrator is unsure of which side to choose. Regardless of which side he chooses, he will be exploited and disposed of. It is for this very reason he...
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...hings in life and suffer punishment they didn’t deserve. With these obstacles it’s no surprise that success was too high of a goal to reach. In a sense both the narrator and Maxine had “dreams” of a different world. A world where their contradictions would be fact. There could be a woman who had a sensitive side but a powerful personality. And a black man, who was seen as nothing, but became something by his own means. In a way they both wanted a world were they wouldn’t need to depend on anyone but themselves. For when relying on others, they put their fate in the hands of others.
The narrator is invisible to others because he is seen by the stereotypes rather than his true identity. He takes on several identities to find acceptance from his peers, but eventually realizes he has no place to fit in. For resisting the harsh truth that he doesn’t exist is futile.
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