A community may be said to possess a genuine ethnic culture when it adheres to and closely observes a tradition rich with its own folklore, music, and idiom. In Ellison's Invisible Man, the concern with ethnic identity is strong and becomes increasingly urgent in the face of a "foreign" dominant culture. Ethnicity, as a means of self-affirmation is a possible stay against eclipse, invisibility. Ellison convincingly depicts the persistence of a vibrant African-American tradition. But the struggle against obscuration leads to a greater triumph. His characters achieve a sense of wholeness, as ethnic life is seen to complement the national culture. Through the idea of cultural diversity and oneness, Ellison propounds a vision of burgeoning selfhood and relationship. The threat of eclipse is replaced by the possibilities of self-creation and integration.
With the publication of Invisible Man in 1952, Ralph Ellison brought to the African-American novel a stature and dignity never achieved before. For the first time, a African-American writer, with creative verve and freedom, was able to overcome the self-consciousness of a minority culture, to realize the opportunities for greater awareness and fulfillment that are latent in a borderland existence. Ellison convincingly depicts the richness and beauty of African-American culture and tradition in the United States, and clearly shows the inappropriateness of neo-African nationalism. More significantly, he establishes the essential place of African-American culture in American society, and demonstrates the immense prospects that accompany marginal life in a modern world. Alienation becomes a condition of vision. Invisib...
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