The novel, "Invisible Man" by Ralph Ellison

 

Invisible Man Essay

“Invisible man” is a novel by Ralph Ellison where he introduces an “invisible man” to his readers. There are many events which make the narrator proclaim himself as an invisible man. The narrator who is naïve in nature does not even have an original identity. He decides to assume his identity to be the Harlem city as he changes his identities to adapt to the new environments. Diversity should be encouraged in the society as shown by the narrator as he interchanges identities to fit to new places. People can be transformed to new cultures and identities just like the narrator does. Every new identity the narrator involves himself in is seen as an advantage and development to the society. Unlike the past, the current America is full of negatives and evils that do not favor change of identities and diversity. Ellison shows how in the past the community was ready to be adaptive to different developments and cultural diversities. Ellison shows how racism has intensified in America giving no chance to cultural diversity. Racism and racial discrimination are they key factors portrayed in Ellison’s novel (Ellison 567). He is keen to show how racism ha brought negative effects to the people who are viewed as inferior people. Racism from the novel led to realization of the true identity of the invisible man. Racism interferes with people’s way of life. Brotherhood enables the invisible man realize his true identity since racism is intensifying in the community. The invisible man believes that the Brotherhood Organization will enable him fight for the rights of those who face racism and racial profiling. Contrary to his thought he later realizes that the organization is only using him as a "token black man" (Ellison 567) to accomplish their scheme.

The invisibility of the narrator is not a physical invisibility but is caused by the public who do not see his role as a black individual. The narrator says that his invisibility has enabled him steal electricity as well as hide from the community. He hides himself in order to write to people and inform them his story and way he has been living invisible. The narrator is a talented pubic speaker and is invited to address a group of whites. The whites reward him after humiliating him and later giving him a scholarship to attend a Blacks college. This is a sign that racism is well portrayed in the community which is a bad way of life. He is involved in a royal battle together with other Blacks where they fight when blindfolded. After that fight they are made to scramble for fake gold currency by the whites. The narrator is not able to sleep that night as he reads his scholarship papers which are written “To Whom It May Concern . . . Keep This Nigger-Boy Running.” (Ellison 577) This shows how the Blacks are despised by whites and are undermined because of their color proving that racism has increased in the American society. The narrator is made realize that racism is increasing by one veteran thereby opening his eyes since he has been blind for that long. This happens when chaos occur at the blacks hotel where the narrator had taken a trustee, Norton, to have a drink. Racism still continue especially when the school president Dr. Bledsoe rebukes the narrator because of Norton saying that he should have taught the trustee about black way of life (Ellison 578). This makes him get expelled from school with several recommendation letters after which he is sent to New York to search a job in those companies belonging to the whites.

He unsuccessful gets a job in Harlem even after searching for it severally. At one of the trustees company he meets a son of Emerson who is kind enough to inform him that the letters are betrayal in nature. He tells that the recommendation letters describes him as a dishonest and unreliable man which has contributed to his lack of jobs. The son of Emerson helps the narrator get a low paying job since he is black and has not even completed his studies which are cut short by Dr. Bledsoe. He works under his black boss named Lucius Brockway who suspects him of being involved the union’s actions. The two blacks end up fighting forgetting their crucial work leading to explosion from the unattended tanks. The narrator suffers much and is left unconscious after being knocked down. The narrator later finds himself in hospital belonging to the paints company and realizes he has lost his memory and is not able to speak (Ellison 578). The doctors find it a good opportunity to perform experiments with this unidentified black patient. He recovers and is discharged from hospital but unfortunately he falls unconscious again in the streets. He is taken by kind blacks to hospital after which he is falls in hands of a kind woman who lives with him in Harlem (Bloom 221). He is courageous enough to give a speech against eviction of a black couple in the Harlem apartments. This makes him get an offer at the brotherhood by Brother Jack. Brotherhood is an organization which aims at assisting those who are assaulted socially. He accepts the offer in order to pay Mary for being generous and kind to him during his illness.

The narrator accepts the demands of brotherhood and is able to meet Tod Clifton who is a youthful leader. He is able to know a certain black nationalist named Ras the Exhorter who supports the ideas that blacks should fight for their rights and do away with racism. He says that African Americans should fight for social equality since they are equal with the whites who practice racism. This shows that he has been invisible for along time and needs to become visible in order to make the community progress. He is accused of taking brotherhood issues personal since the organization is not really supporting the narrator’s visibility. They aim at making him more invisible which he realizes (Ellison 558). The narrator becomes visible when he realizes that brotherhood is betraying him and other black people. He had remained invisible all this long and is surprised when Clifton is shot by white policemen accusing him of selling things without permit. The narrator wants to revenge and now realizes that brotherhood is a political movement which does not help black people. He seduces a woman who is related to the movement’s leadership but is unlucky since the woman does not know much about brotherhood which is his aim. Ras has incited a group of people to cause riots and the narrator arrives there moments after being called. Ras and other white’s police officers are chasing him (Bloom 221) but unfortunately he falls in to a hole. The narrator was and is still in that manhole from the beginning to the end of the story. He has now realized the importance of sticking to his identity and fighting for his rights and his people’s rights.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Works cited

Bloom, Harold. Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man. New York: Bloom's Literary Criticism, 2009. Internet resource.

Ellison, Ralph. Invisible Man. New York: Vintage International, 1995. Internet resource.

 

 

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