Society forms definitions, or stereotypes, of people according to the color of their skin, their economic status, or where they live. Stereotypes define how society believes these people should act and how they should be treated. These stereotypes are, in effect, a pre-made identity.
There are three options an individual must face when presented with this pre-made identity. The individual can accept this identity as his/her own. This would maximize the individuals acceptance into society, but at a considerable price. The individual would lose power, become exploitable, suppress and consequently lose his/her own "true identity," and then would become one of many faces in the crowd. The "true identity" would be stifled and strangled under the one imposed by society. Anger, frustration , and confusion would occupy the mind of the individual. The individual could reject this identity outright and could circumvent the accumulation of this anger and confusion, but not without consequences. This person may be branded a heretic and be rejected by society. They would lose their agency and legitimacy in the society and would lose any hopes of bringing about any change. The third option entails living a lie. On the surface the individual would embrace society's identity, but keep their true self hidden within. This option would allow the person to retain their agency in the society and their individuality. However, like the other two options, there exists a downside. The person would constantly have to put on the mask a particular community wants him/her to wear in order to conform to that community's ideals. It then becomes almost impossible for anyone to get to know the real person, hid...
... middle of paper ...
Works Cited and Consulted
Bellow, Saul. "Man Underground" Review of Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man. Commentary. June 1952. 1st December 2001
Available: http://www.english.upeen.edu/~afilreis /50s/bellow-on-ellison.html
Ellison, Ralph. Going to the Territory. New York: Random House, 1986.
Fabre, Michel. "In Ralph Ellison's Precious Words." Unpublished Manuscript. 1996. 30 November. <http://www.igc.org/dissent/archive/ Ellison/early.html
Howe, Irving. "Review of: Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man" Pub. The Nation. 10 May 1952. 30 November 1999. <http://www.english.upenn.edu/~afilreis/50s/howe-on-ellison.html.
O'Meally, Robert. The Craft of Ralph Ellison. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1980.
O'Meally, Robert, ed. New Essays on Invisible Man. Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press, 1988.
Need Writing Help?
Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.Check your paper »
- All of us go though a period of discovery of our identities. The novel Invisible Man, by Ralph Ellison, addresses the issue of identity formation by following the efforts of an invisible man in search of his identity. He considers himself to be “invisible” because people refuse to see him for his individuality and intelligence..The narrator in the novel Invisible Man is invisible to others and to himself because of effects of racism and the expectations of others. This is supported in significant parts of the novel such as the “battle royal,” his time in the Brotherhood, and the Harlem riot.... [tags: invisible man]
962 words (2.7 pages)
- Identity in House Made of Dawn In 1969 N. Scott Momaday won the Pulitzer Prize for his phenomenal work, House Made of Dawn. The novel addresses the issue of identity, how it can be lost as well as recovered. Momaday offers insightful methods of recovering or attaining one's identity. Momaday once made the following now famous statement: We are what we imagine. Our very existence consists in our imagination of ourselves. Our best destiny is to imagine, at least, completely, who and what, and that we are. The greatest tragedy that can befall us is to go unimagined (Owens, 93).... [tags: House Made of Dawn Essays]
1799 words (5.1 pages)
- In Ralph Ellison’s novel The Invisible man, the unknown narrator states “All my life I had been looking for something and everywhere I turned someone tried to tell me what it was…I was looking for myself and asking everyone except myself the question which I, and only I, could answer…my expectations to achieve a realization everyone else appears to have been born with: That I am nobody but myself. But first I had to discover that I am an invisible man!” (13). throughout the novel, the search for identity becomes a major aspect for the narrator’s journey to identify who he is in this world.... [tags: Ralph Ellison, The Invisible Man]
2213 words (6.3 pages)
- Loss of Identity in Invisible Man No matter how hard the Invisible Man tries, he can never break from the mold of black society. This mold is crafted and held together by white society during the novel. The stereotypes and expectations of a racist society compel blacks to behave only in certain ways, never allowing them to act according to their own will. Even the actions of black activists seeking equality are manipulated as if they are marionettes on strings. Throughout the novel the Invisible Man encounters this phenomenon and although he strives to achieve his own identity in society, his determination is that it is impossible.... [tags: Invisible Man Essays]
1265 words (3.6 pages)
- The Search for Identity in Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man It is through the prologue and epilogue, that we understand the deeper meanings of Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man. The prologue is essential, laying down a foundation that allows us to understand the meaning and reason behind the symbolism and relevance of events the that follow. The prologue allows us to understand the extent and level of intensity the novel is trying to achieve. Acting in the same way, the epilogue further illustrates the importance of different parts of the novel allowing us to truly see what the Invisible Man wants us to notice and take from the telling of his life.... [tags: Invisible Man Essays]
1122 words (3.2 pages)
- Self-Identity in Invisible Man In the novel, Invisible Man, the main character carries around a briefcase throughout the entire story. All of the possessions that he carries in that briefcase are mementos from learning experiences. Throughout the novel, the Invisible Man is searching for his identity and later discovers that his identity is in those items. As the narrator is leaving Mary's house for the Brotherhood, he sees a Negro-doll bank in his room. He is angry that the doll is holding a sign that read, "Feed me." "For a second I stopped, feeling hate charging up within me, then dashed over and grabbed it, suddenly as enraged by the tolerance of lack of discrimination, or w... [tags: Invisible Man Essays]
1055 words (3 pages)
- Identity and Invisibility in Invisible Man It is not necessary to be a racist to impose 'invisibility" upon another person. Ignoring someone or acting as if we had not seen him or her, because they make us feel uncomfortable, is the same as pretending that he or she does not exist. "Invisibility" is what the main character of Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man called it when others would not recognize or acknowledge him as a person. The narrator describes his invisibility by saying, "I am invisible ...... [tags: Invisible Man Essays]
1163 words (3.3 pages)
- Invisible Man: Searching for Black Identity in a White World Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man was published at a time when America was racially divided. The novel presents the theme of the lack of black identity – a theme supported by the fact that the protagonist, Invisible Man, has no name. The reader knows the names of Dr. Bledsoe, Ras-the-Exhorter, Brother Jack and others - but the reader does not know the name of the main character. Ellison's leaves it to the reader to decide who he is and, on a larger scale, how white America perceives black America.... [tags: Invisible Man Essays]
1219 words (3.5 pages)
- Search for True Identity in Invisible Man "Who the hell am I?" (Ellison 386) This question puzzled the invisible man, the unidentified, anonymous narrator of Ralph Ellison's acclaimed novel Invisible Man. Throughout the story, the narrator embarks on a mental and physical journey to seek what the narrator believes is "true identity," a belief quite mistaken, for he, although unaware of it, had already been inhabiting true identities all along. The narrator's life is filled with constant eruptions of mental traumas.... [tags: Invisible Man Essays]
2181 words (6.2 pages)
- Identity in a Color-Conscious Society in Invisible Man Critics generally agree that Ralph Ellison's award winning novel, Invisible Man, is a work of genius, broad in its appeal and universal in its meaning. Its various themes have been stated as: "the geography of hell . . . the real brotherhood of man" (Morris 5), the emergence of Negro personality from the "fixed boundaries of southern life" (Bone 46), and "the search for human and national identity" (Major 17). Rich in symbolism and cleverly interwoven, Invisible Man's linear plot structure, told from the first-person, limited point of view, and framed by the Everyman protagonist from h... [tags: Invisible Man Essays]
1845 words (5.3 pages)