During the epilogue of Invisible Man, the narrator's invisibility "placed [him] in a hole" (Ellison 572). This leads the reader to ask questions. Why did the narrator descend underground? Will he ever emerge? By examining his reasons for going underground, comparing and contrasting his emergence versus his staying below, why he would want to emerge, and the importance of social responsibility, one will see that Invisible Man will clearly emerge (Parker ).
Before one can determine whether or not the narrator will emerge from his proverbial hole, he must asses Invisible Man's reasons for going underground (Parker ). The literal reason for his initial descent was to escape two white men chasing after him. It is at this point that he says, "I felt myself plunge down, down; a long drop that ended upon a load of coal... and I lay in the black dark upon the black coal no longer running" (Ellison 565).
If the reader then thinks back to the prologue, where Invisible Man introduces his living quarters, he sees some irony. During the prologue Invisible Man says, I doubt if there is a brighter spot in all New York...In my hole in the basement there are exactly 1,369 lights, I've wired the entire ceiling, every inch of it (Ellison 6-7).
This extreme lighting contrasts with the darkness and blackness that is shown in the hole that he falls into. According to one critic, the brightness connotes an optimistic viewpoint that is new to Invisible Man (Parker ).
He believed that "[his invisibility] placed [him] in a hole- or showed [him] the the [he] was in" (Ellison 572). He remained in the cellar to get away from "it all" (Ellison 573), and to contemplate his life and his grandfather's words- to po...
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...ng] the foul air out" (Ellison 581). It is here that he wants to put his past behind him and move forward. He says:
I'm shaking off the old skin and and I'll leave it here in the hole. I'm coming out, no less invisible without it, but coming out nevertheless. And i suppose it's damn well time (Ellison 581).
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. Invisible Man. New York: The Modern Library, 1994.
O'Meally, Robert, ed. New Essays on Invisible Man. Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press, 1988.
Parker, Robert Dale "Black Identity and the Marketplace of Masculinity" 30 January 2002 Available: http://www.english.cmu.edu/~ Parker/50s/ellison.htm
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