The “Invisibility” in the novel by Ralph Ellison Essay
Invisible Man is the famous novel by the American author Ralph Ellison. The novel represents the integral part of the American literature. Invisible Man plot has a symbolic meaning in its background and the definition of the “invisible” should not be understood in a straightforward way. The novel’s plot does not consist of any fantastic elements. Quite the opposite, it touches upon the real keen social problem of the American society of the XX century.
Invisible Man is devoted to the life of Afro-Americans in the United States. However, the author uncovers the problem a little bit differently from the typical literature works and speeches of the activists of that time. The narrator of the novel tells us that he is “invisible”.
However, it is not his physical stance. Rather, he feels this way because his existence is ignored by the society. He says that “when they approach me they see only my surroundings, themselves, or figments of their imagination — indeed, everything and anything except me” (Ellison n.pag.).
The “invisibility” to which he refers is caused by not his actions or behavior but rather by the attitude of people towards him. In his speech introduced in the Prologue, he tells us that he is invisible simply because people refuse to see him (Ellison n.pag.). The race discrimination of the Afro-Americans in the United States had been the urgent problem for decades. However, the authors like Ellison tried to shake people’s minds and to make them “see” the black people.
“The bewildered and nameless hero of “Invisible Man” longs desperately to achieve a personal success and to help his people. But his role as a man acted upon more often than acting, as a symbol of doubt, perplexity, betrayal and defeat, robs him of the individual identity of the people who play a part in his life” (Prescott par. 8).
In the “battle royal” episode, the example of the attitude of the white Americans to the black Americans can be seen.
“Blindfolded, the Negro boys stage a “battle royal,” a free-for-all in which they pummel each other to the drunken shouts of the whites. “Practical jokes,” humiliations, terrors–and then the boy delivers a prepared speech of gratitude to his white benefactors” (Howe par. 2).
The force which the white used towards the narrator is explained by the overall madness and blindness of the social minds. The narrator tells us that he fought “automatically” because everyone did (Ellison n.pag.). The “battle royal” episode shows us that the violence provokes further violence.
The episode of the meeting of the main character with Mr. Norton represents one of the most important elements of the plot. Mr. Norton is the wealthy Boston citizen and the sponsor of the college.
The narrator describes him as “a Bostonian, smoker of cigars, teller of polite Negro stories, shrewd banker, skilled scientist, director, philanthropist, forty years a bearer of the white man’s burden, and for sixty a symbol of the Great Traditions” (Ellison n.pag.). Mr. Norton is “blind” as he cannot see the real side of the life of the Afro-Americans in the United States.
Although he spends a lot of money for charity, his good actions do not yet tell about his world outlook. Mr. Norton is the successful well-educated person but he lives in the world the reality of which is far from the reality of the Afro-Americans. That is why he becomes the marionette in this situation. In fact, it becomes obvious that the amounts spent by Mr. Norton only contribute to the further discrimination and exploitation of the blacks.
In his talk with the main character of the novel, he tries to explain him his vision. However, it can be hardly done if he lacks the real understanding of the problem. He mentions that the fortune is pleasant but the main character, the “invisible man”, wonders how the fortune can be pleasant if his parents, grandparents and relatives experienced the hard way of life, so, the fortune is painful (Ellison n. pag.).
It is not surprising that they misunderstand each other. Mr. Norton belongs to the absolutely different social layer. It is hard for him to realize all the life troubles which the main character and the other blacks suffered. In spite of the fact that Mr. Norton is sincere, he is not able to help because he does not see the actual reality and the main character remains “invisible” to him.
In order to summarize all above mentioned, it should be said that Invisible Man is the outstanding work by Ralph Ellison. The metaphor of “invisible” is used by him to reflect the life of the Afro-Americans in the American society of the XX century. In the Prologue, the main character explains what it likes to be the “invisible” as he is seen by people’s eyes but not by their minds.
In the first chapter, “the battle royal” shows the attitude of the whites towards the blacks clearly representing the race stratification of the American society. In the following chapter, the character of Mr. Norton is introduced to the readers. Mr. Norton is another example of the person who cannot see the real life of the blacks, though he intends to make his own contribution to the overcoming of the social problems in the United States.
Ellison, Ralph 1947, The Invisible Man. PDF file. Web.
Howe, Irwing 1952, Review of: Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man. Web.
Prescott, Oliver, “Books of the Time”. The New York Times. 16 April 1952. nytimes.com. Web.
Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison Essay
In Ralph Ellison’s novel The Invisible Man, the protagonist narrates in the first person about his invisibility. He, as he refers to himself without considering his person a subject while being a real person, is made «of flesh and bone, fiber and liquids».1 He describes how people around are looking through him. The problem is not with their physical eyes, meaning it is not something that does not allow them to perceive physically. Only a few pages later, readers randomly find out that the narrator is spoken as of being black. The rest who look through him are characterized as white. In this way, the unexpected flow of expressively violent scenes pours light on an exceptionally sophisticated form of racist unification against which the protagonist will act. It is not a fact of physical absence but the social non-existence of an individual. To the question about his invisibility, the narrator replies that the nature of the vision of those who look through him has to be held responsible for this.
This is not a flaw in their physical vision and actual inability to perceive, but it is an internal prejudice that does not allow them to understand it the right way. The duality of the conflict between the main character and the world surrounding him is gradually unfolded with every step of the development of the book. Thus, with the sharp and aggressive sentences of the first-person narration, this prologue opens the story. The script is characterized by several particularly sophisticated forms of discrimination and humiliation against which the protagonist will fight throughout the novel. It takes a form of invisibility, namely, the suppression of the personality, which, obviously, deals not with physical absence, but with non-existence in a social sense. The demonstration of the latter explains why this story has such an importance for American and world culture.
The story begins with the narrator’s reminiscence about his past life. He tells readers how he dreamed of becoming a renowned educator and orator. However, readers are quickly shown how the system is going to treat the narrator’s dreams as the humiliating procedure of receiving a scholarship to a specially designated state college is described in detail. The narrator then experiences a plethora of situations where he is disregarded, disrespected, and mistreated because of the color of his skin. He gets expelled from the college and goes North, where he eventually finds out that what he considered exceptional freedom turns out to be the same he saw in the South.
The author goes as far as putting the narrator through experiencing the consequences of explosion and being subjected to medical experiments by White doctors. This is acknowledged when the narrator gives an introspection of his life as being “based upon the fallacious assumption that I, like other men, was visible”, referring to his past worldview.2 Further life makes the narrator more and more disenfranchised and disillusioned about the social situation of his race.
However, despite the numerous misfortunes of his life, including being chased into a manhole by a furious mob, the narrator finds a way to ease his hatred and emotional pain. To do so, he uses writing, and as he entrusts paper with the story of his path, he feels that life is still worthy of living. Thus, the man rediscovers the fact that he loves living no matter what. The latter is an example of an excellent new way of perceiving life that is not based on superficial ideas of others, judgment, and prejudice.
Themes and Characters
The theme of racial injustice is the most vividly expressed theme of the entire book. The author shows how deeply it has rooted in the fabric of society. The perceived social invisibility of the protagonist is representative of the racial practices imposed on the African American community that are described by the author in his novel.3 The writer pictures the situation brightly and with striking accuracy because he was a witness of it during his lifetime. While it is obvious that social traditions such as segregation, discrimination, and similar are racist and, thus, absolutely unacceptable, the more important theme of the novel is not the description of the racial situation in the United States.
The topic of greater importance for the readers of all times and nations is the theme of one man’s journey to discovering self-identity. The main character serves the purpose of expressing that idea explicitly. In relation to this, the scene of the expulsion of the narrator from college has great importance as it functions as one of the most powerful triggers that move the character to step on a path of realization, which stems from the inability to understand southern mores.4 The return of the narrator from the White culture to the cultural roots of his folk represents the evolution of his conscientiousness. This is the act of self-liberation of his true identity from the oppressive influence of the dominant racial discourse. As the character sets him free, Ellison here pushes the theme of Black identity in American literature, which strongly influenced future writers in their attempts to resolve this issue.5
In my opinion, Ellison’s warning to readers about the necessity of moderation, as it is depicted in the scenes of unrest in Harlem, was the most important idea. Despite the injustices, it is always crucial to stay away from violence or resentment and dedicate the efforts to something more productive. The latter I consider to be the second most valuable thought I derived from reading this book as it can be given to a person of any generation. If the piece of literature is capable of being useful through time, then it can be concluded that it is truly an art and is worthy of being a part of humanity’s cultural heritage.
The Invisible Man is one of the most powerful writings on the topics of racial justice ever written by any American writer. Its value is even greater as it provides readers with a valuable lesson on discovering one’s true identity and setting oneself free of the influence of the dominant culture. This idea is essential for modern culture as more and more people suffer from being unable to discover their true selves. Finding and establishing a meaningful connection with the cultural heritage of one’s people is presented by the author to be one of the ways to do so.
Banks, Joy. 2018. “Invisible Man: Examining the Intersectionality of Disability, Race, and Gender in an Urban Community.” Disability & Society 33, no. 6 (2018): 894-908. doi:10.1080/09687599.2018.1456912.
Ellison, Ralph, and John Callahan. Invisible Man. London: Penguin UK, 2016.
King, Lovalerie, and Linda F Selzer. New Essays on the African American Novel. New York: Springer, 2016.
Wang, Gaixia. “On The Construction of Self Identity in Invisible Man“. Advances in Social Science, Education and Humanities Research 87 (2017): 656-660. doi:10.2991/icemeet-16.2017.139.
- Ralph Ellison and John Callahan, Invisible Man, (Penguin UK, 2016), 1.
- Ralph Ellison and John Callahan, Invisible Man, (Penguin UK, 2016), 3.
- Joy Banks, “Invisible Man: Examining the Intersectionality of Disability, Race, and Gender in an Urban Community,” Disability & Society 33, no. 6 (2018): 895.
- Lovalerie King and Linda F Selzer, New Essays on the African American Novel, (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2016), 171.
- Gaixia Wang, “On the Construction of Self Identity in Invisible Man,” Advances in Social Science, Education and Humanities Research 87 (2017): 659.
Comments for Invisible Man Essay
When reading the story “the Invisible Man”, what is immediately apparent is that the invisibility in question is not related to actual invisibility but rather a form of social invisibility wherein the inalienable and indivisible rights that should be accorded to all members of an equal society that are absent in the case of the black people within the novel.
The fact that the author never expressly mentions the real name of the narrator, who is the main character in the story, can actually be perceived as a way in which the author portrays the concept of a lack of social identity and acknowledged of not only whites to blacks but of the perceptions of blacks to themselves.
What must be understood is that to call someone by name is to acknowledge their existence; it is to encompass them into your world by virtue of awareness and as a result accord them a certain degree of “spatiality” in the way you perceive them in relation to everything else around you. By not naming a person you relegate them into the realm of “non-perception”. This is similar to the concept of knowing that air is around you yet never really consciously acknowledging the fact that is right there in front of your face.
The “invisibility” mentioned in the novel is, thus, a metaphor for the condition of African-Americans before the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. They are there in the background but are never really acknowledged by the white majority; they are right there in front of their faces yet are not accorded the same rights and privileges as the whites, they are “invisible”.
Dual Nature of Characters
In fact, it can even be stated that the running theme within the novel is that it is a man’s search for identity and visibility within a predominantly white society that views him as being nothing more than a second class citizen.
Of particular interest within the novel is the sheer disambiguation between what the characters represent and what they actually are, for example, the founder of the university that the narrator attended supposedly rose up from slavery and plays the part of a pivotal role model for the author yet the famous speech of the founder is one of service and humility which in of itself promotes the idea among African Americans that it is their duty to forever be the servants of “the white man”.
Another example is seen in the case of the brotherhood wherein despite the fact that they supposedly fight for the rights of African Americans they are in fact, utilizing them as a means for their own political goals. In fact, the supposedly “invisible man” that the narrator represents is at times not so invisible in that he is often at the center of events of great visibility.
Taking this into consideration it can be assumed that the ambiguous nature of the characterizations wherein they are often revealed to be the complete opposite of who they are could be a metaphor for the dual nature of society at the time wherein on the surface they acknowledge African Americans but in reality will never consider them as being on the same level as whites.
From a certain perspective, it can be stated that the novel itself is an excellent example of the “black condition” that pervaded African American society before the 1960s. It is evidence of the hypocrisy of society and the way in which people are rendered “invisible” by virtue of a lack of acknowledgment.
The Problem of Social Injustice in the novel “Invisible Man”
The main task in everybody’s life is to find his own identity. It is not that easy as it may first seem. Once this task is fulfilled, strange as it may sound, man is no more ‘invisible’. What is ‘invisibility’ in this concept? It is not the physical absence of the body, nor the only metaphysical presence of the spirit. It is not a different level of the substance or the state of material non-existence. Though, it seems to me, that people, who label themselves invisible and have strong reasons for that, would rather wish one of the stated above kinds of invisibility.
The narrator of the novel “Invisible Man” thinks “You wonder if you aren’t simply a phantom in other people’s minds. Say, a figure in a nightmare which the sleeper tries with all his strength to destroy.
It’s when you feel like this that, out of resentment, you begin to bump people back. And, let me confess, you feel that way most of the time.
You ache with the need to convince yourself that you do exist in the real world, that you’re part of all the sounds and anguish, and you strike out with your fists, you curse and you swear to make them recognize you. And, alas, it’s seldom successful”.
It is a disaster to be cut dead by the world. It feels like the ship of your personality will never reach the promised land of individuality as it is stranded on the rocks of inhuman treatment. The problem doubles if the society hasn’t overcome the prejudice, be it religious or racial one or of any other kind. The problem is really great. That is why Ralph Ellison raised a problem of social difference and racism in this novel. It was a great thing that he has done as the book that was published more that fifty years ago and the impact it has on the society is still magnificent.
Astonishing the readers with grandeur and the depth of the thoughts, giving a great food for thought for both the discriminators and the discriminated and arising various disputes on the subject it was concerned with, Ralph Ellison’s novel “Invisible Man” served an incredible milestone on the way to a better and more human treatment of the black people. It built new bridges, opened the doors and crashed the old and outdated stereotypes of class division according to people’s skin. No more black people could be treated the same way they were before the book was published. It has done a great thing, it was like the light at the end of the tunnel that gave a hope of at last being seen, being heard and counted as people. It changed the prospective.
Being the representative of the black people, Ralph Ellison perhaps had to overcome a lot of difficulties in writing the novel. I guess, being fed up with the overall prejudice that reigned the society, it was hard for him to perceive the great power of the talent he possessed and then to realize it into the actual work. It wasn’t, as we know, the simple literary work, nor just a masterpiece of majestic style of writing and numerous characters. It was not a simple cry for help, an SOS signal. It was the call that aimed to waken the nation, to unfold its eyes and make it look at the everyday problem that has already turned into the routine for many… It took the author seven years to write that book but this rather long span of life was really worth it.
Having produced the great book which combined both love and hatred of the world, both dreamlike and real situation, Ralph Waldo Ellison gained a reputation of an outstanding writer, who made people not only read the book he wrote but also think about what is written there, thus we may truly state that he made an enormous moral achievement. And as a proof, the book won the National Book Award.
This award really meant a lot for the author as it was his first novel. To my mind, this book of Ralph Ellison will never be lost among other world classics. Having done a great work in overcoming racism, in future years, when no such thing exists, it may become an immense working and research material for both historians and psychologists, who would like to get to know more about such a fact as racism.
The novel is hard to read. It is difficult to watch the cruel scenes of the Battle Royal with its main part being the kind of a game, and a very cruel one, where the black teenagers have to fight each other until only one of them remains standing. They are blindfolded at that moment. I guess there is a deep symbolic meaning in that. One can explain that fact in many ways but I suppose that white men think that the black ones do not deserve to see the bright light of the white world. The white people incite the black ones to violence by rude racist words while they are pushing them into the circle with no chance of getting out of it.
The author managed to touch here the rotten nerve not only of the American society, which was temporary to him. He went far beyond the problem of the very racism. He explored the overall problem of hatred that ruled the modern societies, the cruelty, blood lust, despising people not only of the different skin colour but also of the different and lower social class and the keen feeling of own perfection. He makes us think why white people were so fond of keeping the black ones in the constant state of fear, confusion and terrible and scaring darkness. There is a great food for thought here.
Why namely it happened? Normally, people who are happy with what they are and what they have strive for bigger achievements, not for putting somebody down. Was is not the strong and haunting feeling of self imperfection and nonentity that made them do what they did to black people? Love cannot lead to aggression, nor can any aggression lead to love. So if there was any problem, it lay hidden only in them, not those, whom they teased. We must remember that in order to make things change one should first change himself. And that was one more worthy lesson that the author of the novel “Invisible Man” wanted to teach us.
I want to pay more attention to the symbolic meaning of some things in the novel. First of all, I want to stress the symbolic meaning of light in “Invisible Man”. At the beginning of it we discover that the nameless narrator manages to steel the electricity from the power company by filling his room with an immense number of light bulbs. I think that it is more than a mere revenge on the society that ignores him.
I guess that he made it out of despair. The person, who thinks of himself as of an invisible creature, isn’t really sure that he deserves sunlight. And the hero reassures himself that he is at least able to manage to make use of such a convenience of the civilization as light. Besides, he claims that light is truth and truth is light. Along with the light the hero enjoys music that seems to make his body vibrate. Another important thing in the novel “Invisible Man”, I think, is the calfskin briefcase that was presented to the narrator because of his success. That briefcase was of incredible value for him as he represented and symbolized his education.
The person who gave the briefcase to the narrator was the superintendent and he said the following words to him. “Take this prize and keep it well. Consider it a badge of office. Prize it. Keep developing as you are and some day it will be filled with important papers that will help shape the destiny of your people.” Then the hero finds the scholarship in the briefcase that could admit him into the Kingdom of further learning. “My eyes filled with tears and I ran awkwardly on the floor”. Such were the emotions of the narrator at that very moment. That calfskin briefcase was the only material thing that he carried in his life along with courage, love, strength and other virtues that he possessed.
We should not forget that the nameless man is a well-educated person, that all this ‘invisibility’ was not simply a fruit of an ignorant man’s mind, but of a person who is intelligent enough to question the problem of being and existence from both psychological and philosophical point of view and to seek the necessity of it. That well-developed character represents an author’s mouthpiece, I guess, as there are many lines that link together the past of Ralph Ellison and the narrator. For example, after receiving a college scholarship, the hero goes to a southern African American college and Ellison himself attended Alabama’s Tuskegee Institute founded by Booker T. Washington.
Rising the problem of the crying social injustice, the author went far outside its borders. If we look at the novel at different angles, we may see many different facts. One of them, for example, is a strong feature of courage that the narrator possesses. It takes much strength and courage, I think, to admit that, despite your intelligence and your existence itself, you are considered nonexistent by many people.
At first the narrator feels like tormenting himself when he tries to write down all that he wants. “So why do I write, torturing myself to put it down? Because in spite of myself I’ve learned some things. Without the possibility of action, all knowledge comes to one labeled ‘file and forget,’ and I can neither file nor forget.” But as the character develops and matures, he begins to treasure his invisibility. He claims that “It is sometimes advantageous to be unseen.” But who knows if that was self soothing or realizing the value of being invisible…
One of the most important and symbolic things in the novel was the narrator’s grandfather’s advice. “Son, after I’m gone I want you to keep up the good fight… Live with your head in the lion’s mouth. I want you to overcome ’em with yeses, undermine ’em with grins, agree ’em to death and destruction, let ’em swoller you till they vomit or bust wide open.” These words that were pronounced by his grandfather had a great impact on the narrator. Perhaps he didn’t understand all the deep meaning of them until he was betrayed by his Brotherhood. Then suddenly the advice became totally clear to him. It was like the light at the end of the tunnel that made the road seen and not that scary. I guess, there words helped author to shape his destiny and to make it into one that he wanted it to be, not the one that world wanted.
In my point of view, the only one thing that kept the author on the float all the time was his values. If it were not for them, he would have sunk into the dusk of the overall hatred that ruled the society and would never be able to come back from that horrible net. I think that for us, as for people who are lucky to grow up in far more righteous times, this novel was a great opportunity to see that our life is better from the one that the narrator has experienced.
Of course, every one of us is sometimes cut dead by any other or even by the entire world, but still, we can hardly call ourselves totally invisible. Still being present in the society, the social injustice is not that sharp as it used to be during the narrator’s times. For us, I think, was not that easy to understand and value the advice of the hero’s grandfather as it might have seemed too coarse. But still, as it was proved, it has its own merit and helped the narrator a lot in shaping his individuality.
We should also remember that the hero, along with his development, began to value his invisibility. And if we think of it from our own point of view, we may also find it sometimes helpful. Of course, it is insulting when people don’t give you the recognition that you deserve, but let’s look at it from the other angle.
If you constantly remain in the shadow, if you fail to strike someone’s eye, it means that people do not expect anything of you and instead of living up to people’s expectations, you may live according your own values. This so-called ‘invisibility’ presents you with enormous free time and space for self development. And it is up to you what to fill it with. One may either use it the way the narrator did- to fight the world that ignored him and then become visible, or you may remain in the shadow if the sun rays which reach you there are enough for you to get warm and to feel alive.
Ralph Waldo Ellison have written an incredibly deep and meaningful novel. Though being not an easy one to read, embracing the problems of men’s cruelty, brutality, hatred, and injustice, it holds the reader in the firm grip until the last word. Arising the deep feeling of hearty compassion, it gives everyone a chance to inspect his own values and their credibility and importance one more time. While discovering what it takes to become happy in this life, the reader also discovers that one cannot reach it by humiliating others.
Crashing the old and worn-out stereotypes of ‘white’ and ‘black’ identities in the novel “Invisible Man”, Ralph Ellison teaches us a great lesson. In order to be happy, to be recognized and valued by others, one has got to learn to love. Love is the only thing that our life has to be filled with.
Ellison, Ralph. Invisible Man. New York: Vintage Books, 1995.
The Invisible Man
Once upon a time not so long, long ago there was a small town named Appleton. In this small countryside town there lived many people. There were charming maidens, wicked convicts, endearing princes and vile villains.
They all lived together the best they could not without the occasional problems that you would expect from such a diverse group of neighbors. A rather large problem arised and they all slowly started noticing, it was the disappearance of one of their friends every year at the crack of dawn of the last week of August.
Naturally many conspiracies and theories raised attention,
“They were taken by the ghastly wolves out on Cripples Creek!” exclaimed the shopkeeper.
“They ran away to the Sourwood Mountain community with old Mr. Gwanckedly!”proposed the cook.
“NO! Listen to me people, haven’t you noticed all of the teenagers that have been taken have been turned into fairy tales! Yelled a voice in the crowd holding a hardcover copy of jack in the beanstalk and in the other hand holding a paperback book of the sleeping beauty.
Out of the crowd walked front a beautiful young lady ,her name was Amelia.
Amelia was well known in the community of Appleton for her good character and helpfulness. Her best friend was another story though her name was Aquila. She was known around town for her wicked grin and nasty black cat. Her parents were Maleficent and Jafar ,but sadly they perished in a fire which both burned down their family mansion and was the reason for their death.
This accident left Aquila with nothing more than a couple raggedy sweaters and an old telescope not to mention thousands of dollars in stolen jewelry after all her parents were famous villains. On the flipside Amelia Le Fay, Her Parents, and her puppy Charlie lived modestly in a small cozy cottage in the edge of town.
In the middle of town square stood Amelia with all eyes on her, the townspeople were astonished by this accusation ,even her parents!
“Tonight is in theory the night of the taken, Therefore tonight I will do everything in my power to be the next taken and bring back the others!” claimed Amelia Le Fay.
That night she packed her bags and wished on her lucky rose, she softly fell into a peaceful sleep which was soon interrupted at the crack of dawn by a somewhat familiar whisper,
“Come on now Amelia, or you will never know the secrets of our school!” whispered a raspy low voice.
“UGHHHH I WAS SLEEPING!!!!!!” Yelled Amelia
“Get dressed and HURRY it will be a long trip!” demanded a more quiet and feminine voice
Amelia finally sat up and looked at the faces it was Oochigeaskw and the Invisible Man. This was so shocking to her that she delayed her getting ready so she could ask them questions.
“Oh my gosh! How did you guys find me! Where are we going? What should I wear?!” rambled Amelia
“SSHHHH!!!” Whispered Oochigeaskw pressing her index finger over Amelia’s lips.
They hopped out the back bedroom window and off into the night. They traveled long distances by hiking up mountains, walking along the countryside, and even swimming across rivers. When they appeared out of the dense brush they knew they made it to their final destination of North Ridge High also known as the School for Good and Evil.
It was architecture you couldn’t miss with two large distinctive towers, One which was tall and narrow topped with a quartz roof and the base of the tower painted pastel purple with horse drawn carriages coming in and out of the building.
About a kilometer away was the other tower which was short and plump, colored a dark grey with a thundercloud overhead and bats coming from many windows. Amelia, Oochigeaskw, and The Invisible Man were directed to the center bridge for directions to their towers. As they walked up into the admissions booth The invisible man had an idea,
“Guys why don’t we just go around back and sneak in and find our friends!”
“Sounds like a plan!” said Oochigeaskw and Amelia.
The group slipped away from the crowd and along the west side of the good tower.
“Over here it’s an open door to get inside!” muttered Oochigeaskw.
They all clustered around the door and tiptoed into the hallway connected to the door. They glanced at the crowd of students walking around the halls and realized,
“Look over there!” pointing Oochigeaskw “There is Aurora from Sleeping Beauty, Mike and Sully from Monsters University, Oh and Rapunzel from Tangled!”
“I think I just overheard someone talking about Bob from Despicable Me!” whispered Amelia “I think he is in the bad tower?!”
“We have to tell them what is really going on to their stories in the outside world! We also need to convince them to come back to Appleton!” declared The Invisible Man.
After many long conversations with the students coming from the good tower the trio finally convinced them all to come back to Appleton. They all conferred to came up with solid plan. First the students would sneak out of the dorms, Then they would go to the nearby pond where they will convince Yeh-Shen to join and release Aschenputtel from the “off-brand cinderella cabin”.
After they would release Dinorella from the smaller “Mythical and Magical Animal” Tower where her two stepsisters locked her up at. At last they would rescue bob then go home to Appleton.
They all went to bed and got ready to execute the plan. At 3:30am sharp Oochigeaskw, Amelia, and The Invisible Man were awakened by the group of the soon to be free students. Which you can imagine was very hard for sleeping beauty to wake up that early.
As the plan goes they first convinced Yeh-Shen which did NOT want to leave her fish bones, Afterwards they added another to their group by rescuing Aschenputtel from her cabin. A perfectly finished almost all of their plans ,but had one step left, getting home.
The journey home took many hours longer than the previous trip. Some of the reasons that slowed them down was for example, Dinorella complaining about not being able to clap, Or Aschenputtel cleaning EVERYTHING by habit, and Mike and Sully trying to scare everyone.
When they finally arrived home it was definitely not what they expected, everyone thought it would be an amazing celebration ,but it was anything except that.
There were flags burning, citizens running for cover, and mass destruction. As they walked up the cobblestone sidewalk they noticed something very odd, an enormous sculpture of Aquila (Amelia’s evil-best friend). When they walked up to Aquila’s black throne and tried to talk to her she said
“I am not leaving my throne you hear me! This is my town! My town of DEVILS RUN!!! MUHAHAHA!!!”
“Oh don’t you even START honey buns, You better leave now or you best believe we will make you!” Exclaimed Aurora.
Long story short Mike and Sully scared Aquila and Rapunzel hit her with a frying pan and like any normal person Aquila ran away and was never seen again.
As for the town how Appleton all of the escapees returned home safely to their families and those who don’t have families made many small communities will others like them for example Mike and Sully reopened Oozma Kappa and invited many of the minions, Dinorella and Aschenputtel opened a cinderella fan club, and Yeh-Shen built a little house on the pond with all her fishy friends.
As for Bob the minion he moved back in with Gru. Dinorella also made a club known as the Amazing Reptiles Club with Rapunzels chameleon Pascal. Everything went amazing and they all lived happily ever after!
The Storyteller Notices Clifton
Before long, the storyteller notices Clifton in the city offering Sambo dolls. Clifton has left the gathering. White police officers question Clifton, who does not have permission to offer things in the city, and amid a fight, the police shoot and slaughter Clifton. The storyteller lauds Clifton, painting him as a legend, his words move open assumption toward Clifton. Be that as it may, the storyteller has arranged the memorial service without the Brotherhood’s authorization, making Brother Jack exceptionally irate.
Ras’ men seek after him, so he utilizes shades and a cap as a camouflage. The storyteller at last touches base at Brother Hambro’s place and comes to the realization that the Brotherhood is starting to limit Harlem. Brother Hambro says that the gathering could really compare to any single individual’s needs. The storyteller chooses to play alongside the desire for undermining the Brotherhood from inside.
Mobs have broken out in Harlem, and the Brotherhood means to utilize these for their own finishes. The narrator falls in with a gathering of raiders who torch an apartment building. Meandering without end, he experiences Ras, who is currently riding a steed, furnished with a lance, and calling himself “The Destroyer.” Ras approaches the crowd to lynch the storyteller. The storyteller escapes and falls into a sewer vent. Two white policemen discover him; expecting him to be in control of plundered property, they seal him in.
The epic closures with the storyteller saying he’s been underground from that point forward, thinking about how he can remain consistent with his uniqueness while as yet keeping up his connections to the gathering. He’s recounted his story to assist other individuals with their very own imperceptibility. The significant subject of the novel is the connection among race and individual personality, particularly how prejudice can affect a person’s feeling of self. The storyteller must choose various occasions between his needs and needs and the requirements of the Brotherhood. This is muddled by the way that racial bias makes individuals see him just as they need to see him, in the event that they see him by any means. Blindness is a common theme all through the novel. Various characters can’t see, blindfolded, or blinded over the span of the book.
This quote from Invisible Man is passionately expressed by Dr. Bledsoe, the black president of the college that the narrator attends, as a result of the narrator showing Mr. Norton, a white trustee of the college, unpleasant areas of the campus that should have remained hidden from Mr.
Norton’s knowledge. When first introduced, Dr. Bledsoe is described as a figure that the narrator holds in high esteem, for the narrator sees that Bledsoe has established himself in a prominent position and at the top of the black community. However, the narrator soon learns that Bledsoe’s passion for black education and care for the black community is all a fa?§ade masking his impure intentions of doing what he must do to remain in a position of power. The narrator comes to this realization once Dr. Bledsoe reveals his true sentiments in the quote above.
In the first part of the quote, Bledsoe describes what power means to him. He describes power as a self-established entity whose magnitude one can only understand once they are in possession of it. Through listing what power is, Bledsoe establishes that power comes in many forms and can appear differently to everyone. More specifically, he means that the perspective in which the blacks view his power and how the whites view his power is different, but despite how his power may appear to either group of people, it is still power and gives him authority. This statement develops Bledsoe’s character as only being concerned with his position in society and doing whatever he can to maintain it.
The last part of the quote is equally, if not more, important as the first part of the quote in exposing Bledsoe’s true character as the malicious comment he makes about lynching blacks if it means keeping his position is truly shocking. This comment is evidence of racism against one’s own race; Bledsoe, being a black man, is unafraid to kill his own people in order to maintain his power. It is here that the narrator realizes Bledsoe is corrupted by institutional racism and is not at all what the narratorand most likely other folk in the black communitythought he was as this great statesmen and educator who is concerned with the advancement of blacks in society, leaving the narrator feeling betrayed.
Major themes of the novel are explored through this declaration of obsession with power and self-interest.
The power of ambition reveals itself as a dangerous weapon used by Bledsoe, and by many other characters throughout the novel, to feed on the racism that is so prevalent in this society. By satisfying the role of a stereotypical black man and acting subservient to the white trustees, Bledsoe deceives them into letting him keep his position as president as well as continuing to donate money to the college, which he can exploit and continue to use as a means of power.
He believes that by being subordinate to the whites and admitting that whites are still higher in society than blacks, he can manipulate how the trustees view him and the college and therefore control what they think and do. However, Bledsoe is also saying that his power is completely dependent on the white trustees and that he would be no one without their affirmation of his position, showing that he is controlled by the trustees and in the bigger picture, whites still dominate blacks in any case, especially when it concerns power.
Ultimately, Dr. Bledsoe’s deception of the white trustees represents the power struggle between white people and black people in society. Since the invisible man can’t believe someone he had always admired and respected to act in this way, Bledsoe’s uncovered true character further contributes to the invisible man’s struggle to understand how others want him to behave and thus impedes the invisible man’s journey in realizing his own individuality, the central theme of the novel.
Throughout the different people he meets and environments he finds himself in, he constantly struggles to find his individual identity and this encounter with Bledsoe only catalyzes his realization that institutional racism has corrupted everyone and everything.
Ralph Ellison’S Novel
Although many people think that being different is a good thing, there are people who think that it is not good. According to Ralph Ellison’s novel, Invisible Man, people react negatively toward those who are different. due to the fact that it has been taught by society, they want to feel superior and they’re afraid of change.
I chose this topic because I’m interested in the reasoning behind treating people who are different from you badly. You don’t wake up one day and say I’m going to this and that to this person just because I want to. It’s been conditioned and intertwined into society that we must act a certain way towards people. This can be proven by the novel Invisible Man by Ralph Ellington, Audre Lorde’s essay, “Age, Race, Class & Sex: Women Redefining Difference” and other sources by showing that it’s been taught by society, they want to feel superior, and they’re afraid of change.
According to Ralph Ellison’s novel, the protagonist talks about a fellow black man and how he was or acted. When Trueblood didn’t act a certain way, the protagonist called him a “disgrace upon the black community” (46). His full name is Jim Trueblood and he accepted his black heritage and wasn’t afraid to show it. But as a consequence he was treated as a pariah for not following the social norms which was to do whatever the white men told you to do.
This supports my claim because in that that time, (1940’s where there was still segregation), it was taught by society that black people should act a certain way to be accepted by white people. But Jim wasn’t like that. He did the things that he wanted and for that he was treated as an outcast. Trueblood was also a singer but some people didn’t like the way. According to the novel, “We were embarrassed by the earthly harmonies… dared not to laugh at the crude… animal sounds Jim Trueblood made…” (47). Jim was made fun of the way he sang because he didn’t sing “normally”. He was accepted by neither the black people and the white people. So the people reacted negatively to him being different.
As I said earlier, people react negatively to difference because they want to feel superior. Based on Audre Lorde’s essay “Age, Race, Class and Sex: Women Redefining Difference”, in reaction to someone’s difference, people choose to “ignore it, and if that is not possible, copy it if we [the oppressed] think it is dominant, or destroy it if we think it is subordinate”. This means that people put other people who are not like them down so that they can feel more power or be more superior. So the people who are made to feel inferior, feels as if they must copy the people who are in power just to fit in so that they won’t bother them.
The white men made it so that if we are different from them, we are not considered their equals. According to Lorde, people view or treat differences as if they’re opposites such as “dominant/subordinate, good/bad, up/down, superior/inferior”. So basically people react negatively to other people’s differences because they want to feel superior.
The article, “What We Should Know About Why James Earl Ray Killed Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968” supports my statement that people react negatively to differences because they’re afraid of change. I say that because King Jr. was a leader in the Civil Rights Movement and the most visible spokesperson who actively spoke up against inequality.
He wanted to change things so that people of color can have more freedom or more rights. But some people didn’t like that; they wanted things to stay the same. According to the article, “… The FBI stalked King and his cohort in order to, as Sides put it, “ruin and smear the civil rights movement”. This means that people were afraid of the change that was slowly approaching. So they tried everything they could just to stop it; even going as far as to assassinate Martin Luther King Jr. They thought that after his death, everything would stop. However, they were wrong; if anything, it just motivated people to see King’s work done. This reinforces my thesis statement, which I stated in the beginning.
The article, “How Invisible Man Eerily Foreshadowed the Events of Today” supports my standing that people react negatively to differences because they want to feel superior. People created the stance, “Separated but Equal” (even though it really wasn’t all that equal). The people that were in power were not happy that colored people were finally free. They were afraid of what would happen once they’ve lost their power. How can they feel better about themselves if they have no one to put beneath them.
They also weren’t happy that they lost control of their former slaves, so they tried to do something about it. “… enabled those in power to insist (and believe) that relegating the nation’s black population to second-class citizenship was not only compatible with justice but could also be accomplished without inflicting psychic damage on the perpetrators of discrimination themselves”. This mean that the people in power were able to make themselves more superior than black people all without making themselves look bad or getting into trouble. This source reinforced my statement.
In reference to what I stated above, the novel, Invisible Man supports my claim that people react negatively to difference because they are afraid of change. I say that because once people realize that you’re not like them, they tend to ignore you so that they won’t have to acknowledge that fact. The protagonist said that he is invisible “… simply because people refuse to see me… they see only my surroundings, themselves, or figments of their imagination…” (pg. 3). He says this because in his time, people didn’t want to accept the fact that black people were gaining more freedom.
They were afraid of this, so those who didn’t follow the rules set up by white people, they were ignored. They weren’t treated as humans, just outcasts. If they were not acting the way that white people wanted them to, they weren’t of importance just so they won’t have to acknowledge that the change of white people were losing their power over black people. This how the novel supports my claim.
Another source that supports my claim is the article, “Miley Cyrus’s Bad Reputation Scaring Other Celebrities Away” proves my statement. The article is mainly about celebrities trying to stay away from Miley Cyrus. It’s because Miley decided that she wanted to do the things she wanted instead of doing what she has been told.
People started saying that she’s doing it for attention. “Some people see her behavior as a clear cry for help”. Since Miley started “acting out”, she started to get a bad reputation and no one wanted to be seen with her. People have been taught to stay away from people who don’t follow social norms and do things a certain way. According to the article, Cyrus said, “I’m with artists sometimes and I’ll take a picture of them or whatever. They make me delete it”. We shouldn’t bring people down just because they aren’t acting a certain way. This shows that it’s been taught by society to ridicule those who don’t follow social norms because they are different.
Another article that strengthen my claim that people react negatively to differences because they want to feel superior is “Red, Brown and Yellow Perils: Images of the American Enemy in the 1940s and 1950s”. Based on the article, the Japanese bombed the Pearl Harbor, so they started to hate or discriminate those who were Japanese or looked like Japanese person. In the article, it said, “Anti-Japanese sentiment was often expressed through sub-human or non-human imagery”.
This means that in order for the Americans to feel more superior they didn’t consider the Japanese human. They did this so that they wouldn’t feel guilty about the actions they would take against them. The Americans also moved those of Japanese heritage out of some states because they weren’t really Americans. In reference to the article, “ … President Franklin Roosevelt approved the removal and incarceration of over 100,000 Japanese-Americans…”. Just because they were different, they were treated badly. This is how the article enforced my statement from earlier.
The article, “The End Is in The Beginning: The Riddle and Interpretation of Ellison’s Invisible Man”, also supports my stance on people reacting negatively to differences because it has been taught by society. During the time of segregation, it was taught by the white folk that black people had to act a certain way to be accepted or to blend in with society. According to the article, “He was considered an example of desirable conduct”. This means that the black man did everything in accordance to the white people because it’s been taught to him that if he wants to get anywhere in life, he has to listen to those in power (while people).
He had to act meek and never question anything. “… he was praised by the white men for his desirable conduct”. The white men were encouraging this behavior because they themselves were taught that they were superior to black people. To make sure that they stayed in power, they rewarded those who did things in their favor. This was measure used so that all the black people can act a certain way and if they didn’t they wouldn’t be able to move up or improve themselves. This is how the article play a role in my thesis.
The movie or short film, “Southern Justice: The Murder of Medgar Evers” supports my claim that people react negatively to differences because they wanted to feel superior. I say that because the film was set in the 1900s where segregation was still around (white people separated themselves from black people because they thought themselves higher than them). The people of Mississippi didn’t like the fact that black people were gaining power because they were used to thinking that they were superior. They even formed the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) to terrorize Black people and made sure that they wouldn’t rise to power. Those who tried to fight for their rights received many death threats. Some of the black people living in Mississippi were tortured and lynched of they did something that called the attention of the KKK. Therefore, the majority of white people in Mississippi were racists and believed that black people or people of color should stay beneath them. Those were the things they did just so that they can feel superior.
All in all, there are many examples of people treating differences as a bad thing. There are other reasons why people don’t don’t like others that are different from them but I just focused on three. I think that being different is a good thing but there are others who think not and we should be wary.
The Invisible Man Came To Existence
The invisible man came to existence through the work done by other personas displayed throughout the entire book. Ralph Ellison’s whole idea was to address many social and stereotypical issues that many African Americans faced in the early 20th century. Through his prescience, Mr.
Norton had fortified the predetermination of the storyteller, himself, and all people within the book. Mr. Norton presage that the storyteller will decide his destiny, but he doesn’t realize that the destiny decided is widespread: each being is imperceptible and without this information, individuals are blinded by their possess intangibility. The storyteller is able to come to terms with this self-realization at the conclusion of the conclusion of the novel, and by doing so, he has gotten to be a person and a free man of society, which in quintessence, is what Mr. Norton had to begin with symbolized within the narrator’s intellect. Although, Mr. Norton will symbolize a dazzle, despicable society that the narrator gets to be imperceptible to. The storyteller was as it were able to get to be undetectable by Mr. Norton’s portending; for it was he who made a difference drive the storyteller to the North and go with his destiny.
What is fate? Fate is the will or determining cause by which things in general are believed to come to as they are or events to happen as they do. Fate, in an instance, can be compared to destiny. It is an inevitable and adverse outcome.
Mr. Norton, a wealthy, Southern, white trustee, claims that the storyteller and the dark individuals “were a few how closely associated” with his predetermination. This man contributed reserves to the college as a tribute for his deceased girl, which startled the storyteller, for this white man poured his heart out to him. The storyteller is anxious to open himself up for anyone since he feels that he will as it was set himself up for disillusionment. Mr. Norton, on the other hand, does not feel the same as the storyteller.
He feels that by telling the storyteller that he is the connect to his destiny, at that point the storyteller will gotten to be a more noteworthy being, hence raising Mr. Norton.
Mr. Norton immovably accepts that he is dependable for the result of the storyteller, while the storyteller feels that he is exclusively capable for himself. This distinction of conclusion will as it was conclusion up blinding Mr. Norton, for afterward on, it’ll be found that his destitute endeavors to persuade the narrator that he may be a portion of his destiny will sharply detonate into the terrible reality of his life. Mr. Norton shouts to the storyteller, ” You are important because if you fail, I have failed by one individual, one defective cog; it didn’t matter so much before, but now I’m growing old and it has become very important.” (Ellison 45).
It is as well early for the storyteller to acknowledge or indeed realize his imperceptibility, but it can as of now be decided that Mr. Norton is an uncertain, incompetent man who is subordinate on others for security. In any case, the storyteller has not comprehended this however, so when he arrives North, he feels misplaced and faculties a closeness to Mr. Norton.
“Some way or another I felt closer to Mr. Norton and felt that on the off chance that he ought to see me, he would keep in mind that it was I whom he had associated to closely to his destiny”, (Ellison 169). Afterward it is uncovered that the narrator was transported up North, so he would not bring more harm to the college. This brought upon a feeling of betrayal to the storyteller, not as it were from Dr. Bledsoe, but from Mr. Norton, for in case it hadn’t been for him, the storyteller wouldn’t be within the position he was in. In a sense, the storyteller has failed. He was incapable of achieving his essential objectives. In a more prominent sense, Mr. Norton had failed since of all the gifts he made to the college, none of them could show a great man of society. In spite of the minor setback, the narrator was able to refocus himself and set upon a long struggle to find his purpose in society.
After he goes to the comprehension of Dr. Bledsoe’s “references”, the storyteller makes do with a while and turns into an individual from Northern life. In any case, the freedom and dreams that the North had evoked operating at a profit man of the South started to blur when the storyteller accepted a position at a paint manufacturing plant. After he is menaced by his supervisor, the storyteller has a psychological discussion with himself: “You were trained to accept the foolishness of such old men as this, even when you thought them clowns and fools; you were trained to pretend that you respected them and acknowledged in them the same quality of authority and power in your world as the whites before whom they bowed and scraped and feared and loved and imitated, and you were even trained to accept it when, angered or spiteful, or drunk with power, they came at you with a stick or strap or cane and you made no effort to strike back, but only to escape unmarked”, (Ellison 225).
This inside discourse might be coordinated towards a dark man, yet for the storyteller, it remains constant for white individuals as well. The storyteller acknowledged and trusted Mr. Norton’s remarks on their destinies, and he dreaded and wished to have indistinguishable power from him, and when he held the most hostility for Mr. Norton at the Golden Day, the storyteller gulped his scorn and helped the elderly person. The idea of intangibility has not yet entered the storyteller’s brain, for he has not yet grappled with his place in the public eye. He was yet subservient to the white society and was not able voice his very own sentiments, demonstration how he would have preferred to act; he has not understood his opportunity.
Still burdened by the trustee’s prescience, the storyteller willingly volunteers turn into an incredible man. He can achieve this for a present moment, as a pioneer for the Brotherhood. “This was another stage, I understood, another starting…It was a freshness to subtle to put into thought, however there it was. I was getting to be another person”, (Ellison 335). This new self that the storyteller was getting to be made him feel critical; he felt that now he would have the capacity to tell Mr. Norton of his predetermination.
Like a phoenix, the storyteller had ascended from the fiery debris of disappointment and turned into a very respected man in Harlem. This new achievement, in any case, just brought more hardship for the storyteller, for he had amassed foes and needed to handle overwhelming inquiries regarding himself and the Fraternity. With the demise of a regarded companion and the duplicity of the Fraternity, the storyteller needed to experience a self-assessment. Who was he? What had he progressed toward becoming? Why had his rewards for all the hard work dependably end in disappointment? The storyteller was just ready to comprehend the idea of himself when he changed into Rinehart, a swindler. “All things considered, I was but I was undetectable, that was the key inconsistency. I was but I was concealed”, (Ellison 507). The storyteller has now opened his eyes and seen his imperceptibility; he knows now what he is and the opportunity he has with his new mindfulness.
“Also, now I checked out a side of my psyche and saw Jack and Norton and Emerson converge into one single white figure. They were especially the equivalent, each endeavoring to compel his image of reality upon me and neither giving a hoot in hellfire for what things looked like to me. I had changed from the egotistical silliness of Norton and Emerson to that of Jack and the Fraternity, and everything turned out the equivalent – with the exception of I presently perceived my intangibility”, (Ellison 508).
With this newly discovered information, the storyteller would now be able to perceive what sort of man Norton is and how he will decipher his destiny. The way that he understands that Norton and the other men are clients will empower him to wind up more grounded and transparent men like them, to see their imperceptibility and visual deficiency towards the world. The storyteller uses his imperceptibility to free himself from the visually impaired men’s grips. The destiny he has set up for Mr. Norton isn’t what the elderly person expected; it is the brutal truth that one’s character is false.
At the point when the storyteller escapes into the sewer, his intangibility comes full circle in obscurity and wet environment. In a premonition dream, the storyteller goes up against his adversaries, one of whom is Norton. He states, “I’m through with every one of your deceptions and untruths, I’m through running”, (Ellison 569).
The storyteller is completely mindful of his capacity and has no more need of departure, he is sufficiently able to confront reality now since he realizes that he is undetectable, and those men are visually impaired.
What the storyteller had been doing if he can remember was complying with everybody’s beliefs aside from his own. He endeavored to end up a prosperous, prestigious man to conciliate Mr. Norton’s fate, however he could just progress toward becoming what he was, imperceptible. At the point when the storyteller can see and use his invisibility, he by destiny, experiences Mr. Norton at the metro. Mr. Norton doesn’t recall him; however, the storyteller examines him, which startles the elderly person.
The storyteller could go up against the man who he had decided his destiny. This disclosure enabled the storyteller to tell and demonstrate the man what the man had moved toward becoming. Mr. Norton was as well, undetectable, yet he blinded himself from it, and it was the storyteller’s obligation to place him under control with the real world.
The narrator had acknowledged his destiny, Mr. Norton’s destiny, and the destiny of those individuals whom he had respected. He realized that they were all imperceptible, and to be blinded from this reality just made them weaker. By tolerating his imperceptibility, the storyteller has turned into a man of self-articulation and opportunity; he was never again driven indiscriminately off track by the visually impaired.
The storyteller has completely incorporated all parts of imperceptibility. He has possessed the capacity to see through the lies of society and free himself from a universe of visual impairment. Mr. Norton had been the mechanism for this probability; his deftness enabled the undetectable man to make his mark. By tolerating his destiny, the undetectable man took upon the destiny of the universe, on the grounds that the unconfirmed world couldn’t deal with reality of imperceptibility; just a man mindful of himself can genuinely know about a dubious and false society.
Ralph Ellison’S Own Personal Journey
Ralph Ellison’s own personal journey through life was spent trying to figure out who he was as a person, and is displayed in his writing by revealing the adventure in life of becoming an man that one would be proud of. This is done with the understanding that the world is not perfect, and will never be completely fair for everyone in it. In Ellison’s novels he alludes to the reader of the impacts that changed his life through the words in the book.
In Invisible Man, the narrator of the novel is an unnamed black man who gets kicked out of college in the south, and subsequently is sent to the north for a job. He ends up getting involved with a political group known as the Brotherhood, and starts to question his individuality, as well as his own identity. Ellison himself was influenced by many things at a young age, such as poverty, the city of New York which changed his life, and finally the influences of racism and how he overcame prejudice. These key ingredients of Ellison’s cake of life helped him to form novels around the characters in his books, which he largely bases on himself.
Ralph Ellison’s experience of having little to no hope to become anything more than who he already was as a kid is seen through the narrator’s thoughts about himself and his own life. As a child, Ellison remembered working it out this way: there was a world in which you wore your everyday clothes on Sunday, and there was a world in which you wore your Sunday clothes every day (Ellison 6). Ralph Ellison’s world was the world in which a person wore their everyday clothes on Sunday, one where they had no choice otherwise, due to external limitations.
Much like the author of Invisible Man, the narrator in the novel resembled the life of being unable to have the posh things in life, the expensive stuff so to say.. The narrator recalls being not being able to purchase his wants over his needs, which is demonstrated in the excerpt: as he undressed he saw his outworn clothes (Ellison 315). The process of becoming someone better in life does not just happen to people on a whim. It is something that humans themselves have to work and strive for if they are to earn it. For Ellison himself, this concept was difficult to understand, but after a short time he realized that it was true. For the narrator of Invisible Man, however, it was a more complicated story.
The narrator in Invisible Man has a hard time grasping the fact that he is supposed to make choices to help his own life and not everyone else’s. He thinks that everyone seemed to have some plan for him, and beneath that some more secret plan (Ellison 194). Without the agency to make choices for himself he would have never been able to try to find his purpose in life. Although Ellison had a similar struggle of deciding how he should live his life, it came to him a little easier. He found the mysterious idea of fate and destiny to be the American theme, as he put it in his book. Ellison knew that he had to go out in the world and discover on his own who he was, we all must do. He went and made himself the man he wanted to be. He took control of his life. Ellison took his understanding of his experiences in which he achieved those things, and incorporated them into the narrator’s journey to accomplish that same goal of truly finding out who he is.
Moving to New York was an indirect reason for the way that Ellison’s life ended up the way it did. New York gave him the unique opportunities that helped him turn his life in a new direction, and become the man that he was meant to become. Ellison relates this to the narrator’s life in New York by giving him the option to embrace things that he never knew he desired, which in turn also helps him find his identity, just like in Ellison’s life. When the narrator of Invisible Man heard that Bledsoe, the president of his college, was sending him to New York he got slightly excited. Deep down he was thinking about the freedom he has heard about up north, and he never thought for a minute that he could possibly ever have the chance to go north and have hope for that freedom (Ellison 152). The moral of the story of the narrator’s life is very similar to that of the person that wrote it. Ellison’s life led him to New York, as well as his narrator’s. While Ellison was there his dreams changed.
When Ellison went to New York He came up during his junior year hoping to work and learn a little about sculpture. And although he did study a bit, he didn’t get the job through which he hoped to earn enough money for his school expenses, so he remained in New York (Ellison 14). Ellison’s life in New York is what gave him the opportunity to find his true self and discover what he loved to do. Ellison shares the same experience with what the narrator is experiencing. While in New York the narrator quickly found that he was once again falling into doing whatever people told him to.
Going through that experience gave him the ability to discover who he was and what he agreed and disagreed with. Although his dream of going to the north eventually led him to a group of political radicals named The Brotherhood, it also essentially led him to discovering that he can be in control of his own life and do things that he wanted to do. Ellison resembles the outcome of his life due to New York to the same outcome in the narrator’s life in New York. And that outcome is the completion of the adventure of knowing and being content with who he is and what he stands for. Overall New York was the reason that Ralph Ellison learned of his true self as well as the reason that the narrator of Invisible Man learned of his true self. Throughout all the experiences of both the narrator’s and Ellison’s lives, good or bad, each of their experiences in New York enlightened and taught them many things about the reality of life. It helped them realize, that although they may have their own opinions about something now, that may not always be the case in the future.
As a young child Ellison met a white boy and they became friends (Ellison 4). Ellison spent a few years wondering why he had such a different life than some of the other kids who, just so happened to be white. He had found that although some things are just not fair, it doesn’t matter, and that everyone still serves a purpose on this earth. He incorporates that idea into the narrator’s life in Invisible Man through his mental breakdown about how society can just put you down and trample all over you. Ellison believes that true novels, even when most pessimistic and bitter, arise out of an impulse to celebrate human life and therefore are ritualistic and ceremonial at their core (Ellison 114). Ellison knows that he has to play his own role in society and he believes that his writing can change the world, as well as affect all people, regardless of race, religion, or gender.
The narrator of Invisible Man realizes with time that he is living in a world where blacks are not viewed equally with whites, something that Ralph Ellison himself had come to realize growing up. At the time of his life that was not something that could be changed for a lot of people. Although both ethnicities may have had the same rights they still were not viewed the same. At the end of Invisible Man, when the narrator disappears from the world, Ralph Ellison hides that same knowledge of a human’s purpose in between the lines of Invisible Man by incorporating his own thoughts into the narrator’s head to make him realize that he has overstayed his hibernation, since there’s a possibility that even an Invisible Man has a socially responsible role to play (Ellison 581).
In Invisible Man the narrator’s life of being invisible is the one thing he wanted desperately to change, but he finally understands that the capability to seem invisible is just as much a part of his identity than his physical appearance. It is who he is. The narrator finally thinks that one’s personal reality is something that can be changed alone. Society cannot hide from the bad and we cannot pretend that it does not happen either. One must stand up for what he believes in and be himself; they must play their own role in society. This seems to be a quality that is scarce in our own world, where one is often persecuted for taking a stance on an issue. Just as the narrator understands that no matter how life works out for oneself, everyone still has their own specific and important role to play. Ellison also learned that lesson in his own life and knew that if he wanted to help society, he had to put his stories out there with the hope that we learn from them, and can create a better future.
Ellison’s own experience of being content and confident with who they are as a person is demonstrated not only in his life but also in his work. In Invisible Man, Ellison describes his own thoughts and feelings through his main character’s actions, thoughts on life, and major life changing events. Ellison’s goal in his writing is to tell his audience stories that can inspire lives. He attains this goal by incorporating knowledge he discovered and developed during his lifetime into his novels, and by creating a realistic theme that often compares to the instinctual attempt by people to have everyone in the world experience the same epiphany as the narrator did in Invisible Man. The epiphany as experienced in Invisible Man is one that will produce a world in which people do not need to judge others and be stereotypical. Ralph Ellison composes his novels based on the faults in our reality, and the hope that, in the end, everyone can overcome these faults together.