Ralph Ellison wrote his novel, Invisible Man, in an attempt to open our eyes. Ellison created his nameless character, the Invisible Man, in order to establish a medium for the message of the novel. It is the opinion of this student that if one chooses to further examine the protagonist character, then she or he can better understand the themes behind Ellison's narrative. As one analyzes the novel, he or she soon recognizes a number of predominant character traits that can be associated with the Invisible Man. This student was fortunate enough to experience a lesson of that which the characteristics of inner, outer, and other direction were discussed. Once an understanding of concepts from the lesson was established, the assessment of Ellison's work became less painful. The characteristics are simple. Inner simply represents an individual's self-motivation for taking an action. Outer represents an individual's attempt to please others in the actions the he or she takes, and other signifies an individuals attempts to emulate those around him. The protagonist in Invisible Man displays each characteristic during the course of the novel, but two dominate his mindset and eventually aid in formulating Ellison's theme. This scholar will attempt to examine each characteristic in the following paragraphs, and it is hoped that the reader will attain a better understanding of the novel itself.
The inner character attribute is nearly non-existent in the Invisible Man. This, for the most part, can be contributed to ideologies that the character feels compelled to adopt during the span of the novel. Although the content of each ideology differs, there are a number of const...
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...imply reveal himself to society, combined with his persistence to act the part of another, prevents for true self identification. As with Bledsoe, Ellison's protagonist remains lost and unfulfilled.
Ellison successfully creates a character capable of expressing inner, outer, and other direction, but often choosing only the latter two. The lack of inner direction renders the Invisible Man incapable of establishing himself. The ideologies and principles presented by others never reflected the narrator's true beliefs, and throughout the novel, he struggled to contour his mind and heart to their demands. Ironically, the reader is faced with the dismal fact that despite the narrator's abilities, he remains just the same as he was presented in the first chapter. He is a man without an identity.
Ellison, Ralph. Invisible Man New York: 1952.
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