Ralph Ellison'svThe Invisible Man, a Novel About Insight
1873 Words8 Pages
Using a name to define a person is the simplest way to remain visible throughout life. Without a name one becomes a face, then a face in the crowd, then a face that is barely recognizable, until there is no longer a distinguishment between individuals. Ralph Ellison’s novel, Invisible Man, purposely leaves the storyteller nameless for that sole purpose, “’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 waiting to create a connection with the raconteur by knowing his name, 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 becomes invisible? What does it mean to be invisible? Is it something that is not physically present? Is it the purposeful unacknowledgement of an individual due to the color of his or her skin tone? In the end, these question is never completely answered. Nevertheless, Ellison depicts three essential, separate stages that display the process 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 their own person, and third, consequently due to the two previously mentioned, the subject turns invisible – nevertheless there is hope the subject can become seen in the future.
The narrator is not always an invisible human, “I, like other men, was visible”, but something without a doubt changed (Ellison 5). The college-age man in the beginning o...
... middle of paper ...
... novel. 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 he lives in 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.
Ellison, Ralph. Invisible Man. New York: Vintage, 1989. Print.