The Prologue of the novel explains the unreal affliction the author has struggled with. He explains, “I am not invisible… simply because people refuse to see me,” (Ellison, 3). People see him through “mirrors… distorting glass… they only see [his] surroundings, themselves, or figments of their imagination… everything and anything except me,” (Ellison, 3). Double consciousness is still present yet rather than the condition being a result of the ever present veil that distorts one’s surroundings DuBois describes, it is a condition of the onlookers, a “peculiar condition of the eyes,” (Ellison, 3). Those with “poor vision,” are consuming an altered reality. When they pass an African American on the streets they are only able to see their own misconceptions, their own distorted and generalized beliefs about individuals within a race of people projected onto a body. The individual may even be erased entirely, blending into the “surroundings,” eradicated from the onlooker’s notion of how the world functions.
Unable to been seen and acknowledged, the narrator expresses the “need to convince yourself that you do exist in the real world,” (Ellison, 4). He was a double human, aware of his existence yet constantly reminded that his existence was of no consequence to those around him. We see how his invisibili...
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...him back into his invisibility. They tell him “We mean to do right by you, but you’ve got to know your place,” (Ellison, 31). This scene seems to parallel with the narrator’s violent encounter with the stranger. In both scenarios the white man hurled insults and constrained the narrator to the views they projected onto him. In both the narrator was somewhat forced into acts of violence in an attempt to be acknowledged by the white man. In his youth, the narrator continued to try to emulate a white standard of black performance in the social realm. It can be noted in his speech and his gratitude and sudden feeling of “importance,” after receiving a scholarship from the white men who had previously wished death upon him. However, when he is aware of his dualism the narrator can step back and understand that the stranger is incapable of apologizing for he cannot see.
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