Themes of Honor and Shame in Invisible Man Essay

Themes of Honor and Shame in Invisible Man Essay

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EXECUTE SHAME GENTLY

Invisible Man is a novel by Ralph Ellison, addressing many social and moral issues regarding African-American identity, including the inside of the interaction between the white and the black. His novel was written in a time, that black people were treated like degraded livings by the white in the Southern America and his main character is chosen from that region. In this figurative novel he meets many people during his trip to the North, where the black is allowed more freedom. As a character, he is not complex, he is even naïve. Yet, Ellison’s narration is successful enough to show that he improves as he makes radical decisions about his life at the end of the book.

The nameless narrator is a young black person, who attends his college regularly. He follows certain directions to lead a normal life. Yet, his life has to diverge from what it is as he makes a huge mistake, which can not be forgiven by the Headmaster, Dr. Bledsoe. Mr. Norton, one of the trustees, is chauffeured by the narrator and in the trip they take together, the narrator shows him the places, where the real life that blacks have is obvious. Raged at this, Dr. Bledsoe’s reaction towards the naïve narrator is harsh and he is sent away from the college. The events have key points to them in terms of how the characters choose to behave under certain conditions. These conditions are mostly related to honor and shame, pride and humiliation, ambition to take over and passivity.

Dr. Bledsoe is a black person and the Headmaster of the College. For the analysis of his character and his role, the understanding of the college should be complete and clear. It is an education institute, founded by white people in the name of educating the ...


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...s this is not done, the actual shameful people are the white who tolerate it. They should feel shameless, helpless, defeated and flawed as they lower themselves for their benefit.

Dr. Bledsoe’s ideas and thoughts and actions should be re-examined now that the white society is analyzed. He is not a man of honor in any case, in any definition but knowing what to do should be tolerated by the readers and he should not be accused of being a hypocrite just because of the sympathy we have for the narrator. The abstraction of “honor” and “shame” may often lead to different perspectives. Ralph Ellison’s novel helps us to discuss the themes of honor and shame by providing disputable subjects, emplaced in the complex issue of racism. Now is the time to turn into ourselves and look for the true and honorable self. Please execute the shameless part of you gently…





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