Essay on Sight & Blindness in the Invisible Man

Essay on Sight & Blindness in the Invisible Man

Length: 1024 words (2.9 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Strong Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

Sight & Blindness in the Invisible Man

Throughout the novel, Invisible Man, Ralph Ellison works with many
different images of blindness and impaired vision and how it relates
to sight. These images prove to be fascinating pieces of symbolism
that enhance the themes of perception and vision within the novel.
From the beginning of the novel where the Invisible Man is blindfolded
to the end where he is walking down the streets of Harlem in dark
glasses, images of sight and blindness add to the meaning of many
scenes and characters. In many of these situations the characters
inability to see outwardly parallels their inability to understand
inwardly what is going on in the world around them. Characters like
Homer A. Barbee and Brother Jack believe they are all knowing but
prove to be blind when it comes to the world they are in. By looking
at the characters with impaired vision one can better understand their
struggles with understanding the world around them that they, however,
are not yet aware of.

In the battle royal scene many black youths, including the Invisible
Man, are brought together by the prominent white citizens of the town.
Here they are gathered into a boxing ring while a naked white woman
dances sensuously in front of them. The white men threatened the black
boys if they looked and if they didn't. The white men at once made the
black boys want to divert their stares and at the same time forced
them to watch. The white men were instantly controlling what the young
boys were seeing. By controlling their vision the white men made the
black boys embarrassed, ashamed and, upset, whishing that they
couldn't see the spectacle before them. The power the white men had is
sickly forced upon the blac...

... middle of paper ...

...e is only
holding him back, limiting his potential. Barbee's blindness prevents
him from seeing Bledsoe for who he truly is. Barbee's blindness is
representative of his inability to be an accurate judge of character.

Later in the novel, during his first speech for the Brotherhood, the
Invisible Man talks about how blind he, as well as the audience, is.
In a speech to members of the Harlem community about being
dispossessed the Invisible Man accuses "them" (an unknown other) of,
"dispossess[ing] us each of one eye from the day we are born" (343).
He fears that they have lost their peripheral and the others will be
free to attack from the sides. He considers himself and the Harlem
community "a nation of one-eyed mice" (343). The Invisible Man is
using this metaphor to try to pull the community's eyes together so
that they won't be as vulnerable to "them."

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Invisibility in Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison Essay

- Most commonly in literature, the concept of invisibility is taken to the extreme effect of being physically transparent and unseen by anyone. In popular media, the hero is also often portrayed as being invisible, going behind the enemy's back to complete his or her mission. In Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man, this view of invisibility is reversed; rather than being invisible and getting noticed, a man is in plain sight of everyone- however, due to a slew of stereotypes and prejudices, nobody recognizes what he accomplishes....   [tags: Literary Analysis, Invisible Man]

Strong Essays
965 words (2.8 pages)

Invisible Man Essay

- One obvious theme that I picked up when I read Invisible Man was the theme of invisibility. I think the theme of invisibility has different meanings to it. One meaning is that invisibility suggests the unwillingness of others to see the individual as a person. The narrator is invisible because people see in him only what they want to see, not what he really is. Invisibility, in this meaning, has a strong sense of racial prejudice. White people often do not see black people as individual human beings....   [tags: Ralph Ellison, Invisible Man]

Free Essays
624 words (1.8 pages)

Analysing Invisible Man Essay

- Analysing Invisible Man After reading this book I wondered what it would be like to be blind then gain sight, but realize you cannot see yourself because you are invisible. It seems like a cruel joke that once you can see you realize that you still cannot see who you are. Even though this seems like a very depressing event Ellison makes it seem like a positive thing. While, at the end of the story, the narrator still does not know his place in the world he seems to be glad that he is no longer blindfolded....   [tags: Invisible Man Ralph Ellison Essays]

Strong Essays
1110 words (3.2 pages)

Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison Essay

- Blindness is defined as the lack of visual perception. Blindness can also be defined as not being able to see things for what they really are. One may be able to see but may not be able to see the true meaning of something. Black communities often refuse to see the way that white people treat them. In Ralph Ellison’s novel Invisible Man many events contribute to the overall theme of sight vs. blindness. The Battle Royal is a scene in the novel that contributes to the theme of sight vs. blindness....   [tags: Blindness, Novel Analysis]

Strong Essays
1548 words (4.4 pages)

Essay about Cure for Blindness - Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man

- Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man was a crucial literary tool in raising awareness of and forwarding the equal rights movement for African Americans when it reached readers of all races in the 1950's. The Cultural Contexts for Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man claims that the novel envisions nothing less than undoing African Americans' cultural dispossession. Ellison's words are indeed an eloquent unraveling of social stereotypes and racisms. He employs allegorical conceptions of blindness and invisibility to dissect culturally ingrained prejudices and ignorance towards African Americans....   [tags: American Literature]

Strong Essays
1063 words (3 pages)

The Invisible Man By Ralph Ellison Essay

- Thoughts from the unseen One can spend an entire lifetime searching for their true identity and wrestling with the revelation of how society defines and perceives one’s true character. In the novel, Invisible Man, author Ralph Ellison portrays one man’s journey through turbulent racial tensions and the exploration of his role in society. W.E.B. Du Bois predicted that “the racial bigotry of the previous century excluded blacks from the promises of the American Dream,” Contrary to most African American activists ' struggling with hostility and segregation, Ellison focuses on the rights of the individual and addresses problems common to all humankind....   [tags: African American, White people, Race, Black people]

Strong Essays
1603 words (4.6 pages)

Invisible Man By William Ellison Essay

- The 1930’s were a tumultuous time in regards to the relationship between white and black citizens in the United States. Black folk in the country had their freedom for some time now, but they were still struggling to have many of the civil liberties which they still sought. Despite the significant strides that black citizens had made in the country, race relations still proved to be a major problem of the time period. Ralph Ellison, in his book Invisible Man, writes about the way black people were living in the 1930’s and the hardships they endured as they sought greater equality....   [tags: White people, Race, Black people, Race]

Strong Essays
1251 words (3.6 pages)

Ralph Ellison's Life: Invisible Man Essay

- Invisible Man (1952) chronicles the journey of a young African-American man on a quest for self-discovery amongst racial, social and political tensions. This novel features a striking parallelism to Ellison’s own life. Born in Oklahoma in 1914, Ellison was heavily influenced by his namesake, transcendentalist Ralph Waldo Emerson. Ellison attended the Tuskegee Institute on a music scholarship before leaving to pursue his dreams in New York. Ellison’s life mirrors that of his protagonist as he drew heavily on his own experiences to write Invisible Man....   [tags: Novel Analysis, Character Development]

Strong Essays
1427 words (4.1 pages)

Ellison's Invisible Man: Invisibility, Vision, and Identity as Motifs Essay

- Ralph Ellison incorporates many symbols into this novel, each providing a unique perspective on the narrative and supporting the themes of invisibility, vision and identity. These themes can many times generally symbolize the strength of the subconscious mind. In this novel I think that there are several visions that symbolize the narrator’s escape from reality, seeking comfort in memories of his childhood or times at the college, often occurring as he fades into his music. Ellison coincidences dreams and reality to redefine the surrealistic nature of the narrator’s experience and to showcase the differences between the realities of black life and the myth of the American dream....   [tags: essays research papers]

Strong Essays
759 words (2.2 pages)

Blindness and Invisibility in Invisible Man Essay

- As the story of the” Invisible Man” by Ralph Ellison continues, the reader is able to explicitly see his journey in college. Invisibility as well as blindness is evident in these stories. Through the use of metaphor and vivid details the author once again conveys his message of how invisibility is a major part in his life. Though the stories may seem “out of place” at first transitioning to the present and past, the style shows how the narrator has learned from his experiences. When the narrator mentions the founder of his school, Mr....   [tags: Ralph Ellison, Invisible Man]

Strong Essays
734 words (2.1 pages)