Ralph Ellison's The Invisible Man Essay

Ralph Ellison's The Invisible Man Essay

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Using a name to define a person is the simplest way for an individual to remain visible throughout life. Ralph Ellison’s novel, Invisible Man, purposely leaves the storyteller nameless for that exclusive reason, “’What’s his name?’ The boy read my name off a card” (Ellison 198). Ellison painstakingly excites the reader in anticipation for the narrator’s name to be revealed. The reader is constantly is awaiting a connection with the raconteur by knowing his name, but only to be disappointed. As frustrating as it is for the reader not to know the narrator’s name, Ellison’s methodical approach to writing is only fully appreciated when one examines the steps of invisibility according to the life of the invisible man. By being unidentified, does the narrator become invisible? Or is invisibility the purposeful unacknowledgement of an individual due to race? In the end, these questions are never completely answered. Nevertheless, Ellison depicts three essential, separate stages that display the development of transforming from a visible man into an invisible one: first the subject is denied ambition, second the subject is denied the right to be his own person, and third, consequently due to the two heretofore specified, the subject turns invisible – fortunately there is hope the subject can reappear.
The narrator is not always invisible, “I, like other men, was visible”, but something without a doubt changed (Ellison 5). The college-age man in the opening of the novel is substantially divergent from the one introduced in the prologue. The man in the prologue is resentful and unstable. In an inaugural of the prologue scene, after the chaos of Harlem has settled, the narrator engages in an irrational grotesque act of violence...


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...It identifies identity in three segments. The first is the loss of ambition. The narrator struggles with this repeatedly as he tries to promote a better world than his is a member of, only to be silenced by those with a higher power. The second phase occurs because the narrator surrendered to his superiors, he no longer could find himself as a person. These two processes lead to invisibility. A period in life when no matter what direction one looks in there is no hope. Thankfully, Invisible Man does not say the story ends without hope. Instead, although it appears to be an extensive process, one gain create a new dream, redefine who they are as a person, and become visible in the world. Invisible Man is not about invisibility, but about insight on how individuals view themselves.


Works Cited

Ellison, Ralph. Invisible Man. New York: Vintage, 1989. Print.

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