Essay on the Genius of Ralph Ellison

Essay on the Genius of Ralph Ellison

Length: 2040 words (5.8 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Powerful Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

The Genius of Ralph Ellison

 
   I am an invisible man. With these five words, Ralph Ellison ignited the literary world with a work that commanded the respect of scholars everywhere and opened the floodgates for dialogue about the role of African-Americans in American society, the blindness that drove the nation to prejudice, and racial pluralism as a forum for recognizing the interconnection between all members of society regardless of race.

I am invisible, understand, simply because people refuse to see me. . . . That invisibility to which I refer occurs because of a peculiar disposition of the eyes of those with whom I come in contact. A matter of the construction of their inner eyes, those eyes with which they look through their physical eyes upon reality (Ellison, 1).

Roughly autobiographical in nature, Ellison's Invisible Man is also a chronology constructed to parallel the history of African-Americans, from slavery, Emancipation, subjugation, and a rising consciousness of injustice perpetrated against them. However, Ellison's literary finesse produced an opus that draws in every member of American society. Rather than alienating whites by portraying a man victimized by a racist system, Ellison appeals to the universal needs of humanity to be valued, recognized, and respected. Through his portrayal of an enigmatic, complex, invisible protagonist he makes the reader reflect upon the societal dynamics that marginalize people and create the unsettling climate that the protagonist's needs and feelings may be identical to those of the reader.

Ellison's life has been called representative of that of African-Americans of his era. Born in 1914 to parents of farming and small business backgrounds, he grew up in O...


... middle of paper ...


...s movement, to the current crossroads of affirmative action and other contemporary race issues. He transformed these issues from being matters of race to matters of humanity.

 

I am an invisible man. The pain of racism and diminished humanity rings through the work. Ellison's own life met with many of the same challenges, yet he made the story one not limited to the African American community. As the last sentence of the book asks, Who knows but that, on the lower frequencies, I speak for you?

 

Bibliography

Bloom, Harold. Ed. Modern Critical Interpretations: Invisible Man. Philadelphia: Chelsea House Publishers. 1999.

Ellison, Ralph. Invisible Man. New York: Random House. 1952.

Ellison, Ralph. Juneteenth. New York: Random House. 1999.

McSweeny, Kerry. Invisible Man: Race and Identity. Boston: Twayne Publishers. 1988.

 

 

Need Writing Help?

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

Check your paper »

The Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison Essay

- The Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison The goal of every person is to find their place in society. The journey itself is a hard one, but sometimes unforeseen obstacles make this journey nearly impossible. The book, The Invisible Man, takes us along the journey with a man that has no name. You may think that it is odd not to give the main character of a book a name, but if you think about it, what purpose does a name serve. Isn't is said that a man's actions speak louder than his words. In this story, the man's actions go hand in hand with his words, to make him desired by some, feared and hated by others....   [tags: Ralph Ellison Invisible Man Essays]

Powerful Essays
1750 words (5 pages)

Symbolism in Invisible Man, by Ralph Ellison Essay

- When looking into the inner workings of a machine, one does not see each individual gear as being separate, but as an essential part of a larger system. The cogs on the gear move in a way that losing one would cause the entire machine to fail. This concept of mechanics lays the foundation to many issues touched on in Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison. The machine imagery comes through in two conversations with men that the narrator may idolize, though he – the invisible man – does not realize this at the time....   [tags: literary analysis, ralph ellison]

Powerful Essays
1328 words (3.8 pages)

The Invisible Man, By Ralph Ellison Essay

- As James Baldwin has expressed, “The state of birth, suffering, love and death are extreme states -extreme, universal, and inescapable. We all know this, but we would rather not know it”. Of course, motivation is only natural, but it causes us to have tunnel vision, and only set our targets on our desire. However, many do not remember, nor question the effects or occurrences of anything other than these desires; within this ignorance, lies the error. Many people would rather set their eyes on the prize than focus on reality and our present state....   [tags: Invisible Man, Ralph Ellison, Person, Self]

Powerful Essays
1204 words (3.4 pages)

Invisible Man By Ralph Ellison Essay

- Throughout Ralph Ellison’s novel, Invisible Man, the main character dealt with collisions and contradictions, which at first glance presented as negative influences, but in retrospect, they positively influenced his life, ultimately resulting in the narrator developing a sense of independence. The narrator, invisible man, began the novel as gullible, dependent, and self-centered. During the course of the book, he developed into a self-determining and assured character. The characters and circumstances invisible man came across allowed for this growth....   [tags: Invisible Man, Ralph Ellison, Character, Novel]

Powerful Essays
895 words (2.6 pages)

The Invisible Man Prologue By Ralph Ellison Essay

- In the “Invisible Man Prologue” by Ralph Ellison we get to read about a man that is under the impressions he is invisible to the world because no one seems to notice him or who he is, a person just like the rest but do to his skin color he becomes unnoticeable. He claims to have accepted the fact of being invisible, yet he does everything in his power to be seen. Merriam-Webster dictionary defines Invisible as incapable by nature of being seen and that’s how our unnamed narrator expresses to feel....   [tags: Light, Lighting, Ralph Ellison, Narrative]

Powerful Essays
1151 words (3.3 pages)

Essay on Racism and Identity in Ralph Ellison’s The Invisible Man

- 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]

Powerful Essays
2213 words (6.3 pages)

Use of Symbolism In Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man Essay

- Ralph Ellison uses several symbols to emphasize the narrator’s attempt to escape from stereotypes and his theme of racial inequalities in his novel, Invisible Man. In particular, the symbolism of the cast-iron is one that haunts the narrator throughout the book. Ellison’s character discovers a small, cast-iron bank that implies the derogatory stereotypes of a black man in society at the time. From its “wide-mouthed, red-lipped, and very black” features, to its suggestion of a black man entertaining for trivial rewards, this ignites anger in Ellison’s narrator....   [tags: Ralph Ellison, Invisible Man]

Powerful Essays
768 words (2.2 pages)

Essay on Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man

- Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man “All things, it is said are duly recorded – all things of importance, that is. But not quite, for actu-ally it is only the known, the seen, the heard and only those events that the recorder regards as important that are put down, those lies his keepers keep their power by. (Ralph Ellison, 439) The Christian value system that saturates Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man is exhibited in the invisible man’s struggle over whether humility is an appropriate virtue for him to pursue or just a handicap that enables him to be taken advantage of and oppressed by the powers that be....   [tags: Ralph Ellison Invisible man]

Powerful Essays
8038 words (23 pages)

Life in Oklahoma City by Ralph Ellison Essay

- Life in Oklahoma City by Ralph Ellison The author Ralph Ellison is a renowned writer and scholar with significant nonfiction stories credited to his name. He was born in Oklahoma City about the year 1913. His family had a small business wherein his father worked as a foreman but soon died when he was only three years old. After several years, he later found out that his father wished that he would someday become a poet after the great American essayist popularly known as Ralph Waldo Emerson who became his namesake....   [tags: Ralph Ellison Book Review]

Free Essays
1785 words (5.1 pages)

Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man Essay

- Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man A twisted coming-of-age story, Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man follows a tormented, nameless protagonist as he struggles to discover himself in the context of the racially charged 1950s. Ellison uses the question of existence “outside” history as a vehicle to show that identity cannot exist in a vacuum, but must be shaped in response to others. To live outside history is to be invisible, ignored by the writers of history: “For history records the patterns of men’s lives…who fought and who won and who lived to lie about it afterwards” (439)....   [tags: Ralph Ellison Invisible Man Essays]

Powerful Essays
2195 words (6.3 pages)