To be invisible is to be unable to be seen by anyone without artificial aid. The invisible man is more impossible to locate than the proverbial needle in a haystack. In Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man, the main character, I., progresses through various phases of symbolic invisibility.
The story begins with I. recounting the various steps and incidents that led him to realize his invisibility. I.'s grandfather was a meek and humble man, and therefore surprised I. when he told him to "live with your head in the lion's mouth, overcome 'em with yeses, agree 'em to death and destruction." This statement is the ever-present current that guides I. to his eventual self-discovery. It haunts him beyond his discovery and even remains after his acceptance of his situation, where the reader realizes that even I. does not fully understand his grandfather's words. The battle royal serves to open his eyes, although only slightly, only to be re-closed, because I. still gives his acceptance speech to the crowd of prominent white men from the town. These are the same men who were moments ago screaming "let me at that big nigger". Yet he still assumes these men respect him for his intelligence, and are taking him seriously. Upon reflection he realizes that this is when he really started running for the white man. He was playing their games, trying to grab the electrified money, not looking at the naked white woman, these men really started him running and taught him their game he was expected to play. The next big shock came after I.'s encounter with Mr. Norton, a prominent white man and huge contributor to the University he was attending. He takes Mr. Norton into the old slave...
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...ntinues on to explore his newfound knowledge. There is a hope for those that are invisible, which so many are, that you may be able to come to terms with your transparency.
Bellow, Saul. "Man Underground" Review of Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man. Commentary. June 1952. 1st December 1999<http://www.english.upeen.edu/~afilreis /50s/bellow-on-ellison.html
Earl, Gerald. "Decoding Ralph Ellison" Essay obtained from IGC.org Summer '97. 30 November. <http://www.igc.org/dissent/archive/summer97/early.html
Howe, Irving. "Black Boys and Native Sons" English Dept. at Univ. Penn. 1 December 1999 <http://www.english.upenn.edu/~afilreis/50s/howe-blackboys.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.
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