Essay about Ralph Ellison 's Invisible Man And Jack Kerouac 's On The Road

Essay about Ralph Ellison 's Invisible Man And Jack Kerouac 's On The Road

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Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man and Jack Kerouac’s On the Road are drastically disparate texts, from theme and tone to content and narrative style. Invisible Man deals with the treatment of black people, while On the Road deals with friends abandoning responsibility to travel America. However, despite these differences these texts share one theme in common. Both texts represent the American Dream as being unattainable for certain people, Invisible Man argues that the traditional American Dream is unattainable for African Americans, which On the Road agrees with subtly through its depictions of minorities. In addition to this, they both share depictions of a postmodern world in which the protagonists have been alienated in some way, Invisible Man’s narrator being alienated from society due to the color of his skin, while Sal alienates himself due to his Beatnik values and lifestyle. Throughout the essay, I will argue that both of these texts depict rejection of the American Dream. I will do this by examining passages that illustrate both the personal rejection of the dream through their protagonists, as well as examining societal rejection of marginalized groups.
Beginning with the personal rejection of the dream in On the Road, the first thing to note that contrasts with Invisible Man is that Sal and his friends have access to the traditional American Dream. With Sal in particular having the most access to it due to his skin color, family, and work experience. This idea makes Sal’s rejection of the dream more interesting than someone like Dean’s, as later on in the novel he is weighed down by his responsibilities to his family, or the narrator, as he is part of marginalized society. Sal is therefore more interesting because he ha...


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Despite Invisible Man and On the Road existing as dramatically different novels, which deal with different themes, race, class, narrative style, as well as plots, both texts share the motif of rejecting the American Dream. On the Road places more emphasis on the personal rejection of the dream, while Invisible Man sets out to show and discuss how African Americans are marginalized in society, and how they are therefore disallowed from participating in the same dream that whites are. That is not to say however, that the texts do not deal with the other side, On the Road, distinctly deals with the idea of minorities lacking the ability to have the same dream as whites, and Sal is the embodiment of this idea. As well, Invisible Man shows the narrator’s personal rejection of the American Dream after realizing that he is simply being kept running in place.

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