Invisible Man Essay

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“I am invisible, understand, simply because people refuse to see me. Like the bodiless heads you see sometimes in circus sideshows, it is as though I have been surrounded by mirrors of hard, distorting glass.” - Ralph Ellison, Invisible Man In the prologue of Ellison's Invisible Man, the narrator immediately identifies himself as an invisible and unnamed young black man, a wisdom that he has gained from his adolescent experiences of docility in a Southern state to his more radical experiences in Harlem, New York. Once innocent and naïve, the narrator, now aware of his unnoticeable role as a black man, tells the story of his journey from blindness to sight and then insight. In his story, he passes through various communities as he grows as a person, each one promoting a different idea of how blacks should behave in society, and the invisible man tries to find himself in the values and expectations imposed on him, only to find that each appointed role he adheres to limits his individuality and forces him to play an unauthentic part. He is stereotyped by the groups he affiliates himself with – to the Brotherhood, he is the black token to be used to further the group's self-serving and abstract ideas; to wealthy, white trustees like Mr. Norton, he is their so-called destiny; to Dr. Bledsoe, he is another “black uneducated fool” (Ellison 143) who isn't able to play the game in order to gain influence and power; and to the white New York woman, he is a “big black bruiser” (Ellison 522) who can fulfill her Negro fantasies. The narrator allows himself to be identified by others and therefore loses his own sense of uniqueness in a chaotic world, only to find out in the end that the world is blind and indifferent to who he truly is. Although the main theme of Invisible Man is the black protagonist's invisibility and his inability to understand his own

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