Preview
Preview

Invisible Man Essay: Race, Blindness, and Monstrosity

:: 3 Works Cited
Length: 2258 words (6.5 double-spaced pages)
Rating: Blue      
Open Document




- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Race, Blindness, and Monstrosity in Invisible Man

 
    I'd like to read Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man as the odyssey of one man's search for identity.  Try this scenario: the narrator is briefly an academic, then a factory worker, and then a socialist politico.  None of these "careers" works out for him.  Yet the narrator's time with the so-called Brotherhood, the socialist group that recruits him, comprises a good deal of the novel.  The narrator thinks he's found himself through the Brotherhood.  He's the next Booker T. Washington and the new voice of his people.  The work he's doing will finally garner him acceptance.  He's home.

 

It's a nice scenario, but the narrator realizes his journey must continue when Jack, the leader of the Brotherhood:

 

'Now see here,' he began, leaping to his feet to lean across the table, and I spun my chair half around on its hind legs as he came between me and the light, gripping the edge of the table, sputtering and lapsing into a foreign language, choking and coughing and shaking his head as I balanced on my toes, set to propel myself forward; seeing him above me and the others behind him as suddenly something seemed to erupt out of his face . . ."  (Ellison, Invisible Man, 409).

 

The careful bureaucracy gives way to rage; he regresses, spitting and swearing in a foreign tongue, leaning forward as if to attack the narrator.  And the eruption?  Jack is a Cyclops, the one-eyed mythological giant of terror and lawlessness:

 

I stared into his face, feeling a sense of outrage.  His left eye had collapsed, a line of raw redness showing where the lid refused to close, and his gaze had lost its command.  I looked from his face to the glass, thinking he's disem...


... middle of paper ...


...Citizen is a rowdy drunk that no one listens to.  Yet Jack is a brother, or, as Invisible Man puts it, the great white father.  He's not such an easy enemy to defeat, and the problem won't just go away.  The map of racism, blindness, and monstrosity that Ellison draws is incomplete because the monster is never defeated.  Perhaps this too is characteristically American.  Ellison's evolved Cyclops has staying power.  He's grown resistant to the hero's tricks and, though blind, he will thrive.  Ellison's Odysseus is doomed to wander longer than eleven years.

 

[1] This is the Gaelic word for "nonsense".

 

Works Cited

Ellison, Ralph.  Invisible Man.  New York: Random House, New American Library, 1952.

Homer.  The Odyssey, translated Richmond Lattimore.  New York: Harper Collins, 1991.

Joyce, James.  Ulysses.  New York: Random House, 1990.

 


Click the button above to view the complete essay, speech, term paper, or research paper

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »







This essay is 100% guaranteed.


Title Length Color Rating  
Blindness and Invisibility in Invisible Man Essay - As the story of the” Invisible Man” by Ralph Ellison continues, the reader is able to explicitly see his journey in college. Invisibility as well as blindness is evident in these stories. Through the use of metaphor and vivid details the author once again conveys his message of how invisibility is a major part in his life. Though the stories may seem “out of place” at first transitioning to the present and past, the style shows how the narrator has learned from his experiences. When the narrator mentions the founder of his school, Mr....   [tags: Ralph Ellison, Invisible Man] 734 words
(2.1 pages)
Better Essays [preview]
Invisible Race and Gender in Invisible Man, by Ralph Ellison Essay - In Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison, the unnamed narrator shows us through the use motifs and symbols how racism and sexism negatively affect the social class and individual identity of the oppressed people. Throughout the novel, the African American narrator tells us the story of his journey to find success in life which is sabotaged by the white-dominated society in which he lives in. Along his journey, we are also shown how the patriarchy oppresses all of the women in the novel through the narrator’s encounters with them....   [tags: Invisible Man Essays]
:: 5 Works Cited
2387 words
(6.8 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]
Blindness in Invisible Man Essay - Many people wonder what it would be like if they were to be invisible; stealthily walking around, eavesdropping on conversations, and living as if nothing is of their concern. Invisible Man, by Ralph Ellison, is centred on an unnamed fictional character who believes himself to be, indeed, invisible to the rest of the world. He is not invisible in the physical sense, but socially and intellectually. As the book develops, readers are able to experience an authentic recollection of what life is as a black man living in a white man’s world....   [tags: analysis, ralph ellison]
:: 3 Works Cited
1518 words
(4.3 pages)
Powerful Essays [preview]
Essay on Themes and Motifs in The Invisible Man by Ralph Elison - In Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison, the unnamed narrator shows us, through the use motifs such as blindness and invisibility and symbols such as women, the sambo doll, and the paint plant, how racism and sexism negatively affect the social class and individual identity of the oppressed people. Throughout the novel, the African American narrator tells us the story of his journey to find success in life which is sabotaged by the white-dominated society in which he lives in. Along his journey, we are also shown how the patriarchy oppresses all of the women in the novel....   [tags: blindness, oppression, culture]
:: 1 Works Cited
908 words
(2.6 pages)
Better Essays [preview]
Essay on Race in Invisible Man and Black Boy - The Question of Race in Invisible Man and Black Boy      In the early twentieth century black American writers started employing modernist ways of argumentation to come up with possible answers to the race question. Two of the most outstanding figures of them on both, the literary and the political level, were Richard Wright, the "most important voice in black American literature for the first half of the twentieth century" (Norton, 548) and his contemporary Ralph Ellison, "one of the most footnoted writers in American literary history" (Norton, 700)....   [tags: Invisible Man Essays]
:: 4 Works Cited
1148 words
(3.3 pages)
Better Essays [preview]
Essay on Sight & Blindness in the Invisible Man - Sight & Blindness in the Invisible Man Throughout the novel, Invisible Man, Ralph Ellison works with many different images of blindness and impaired vision and how it relates to sight. These images prove to be fascinating pieces of symbolism that enhance the themes of perception and vision within the novel. From the beginning of the novel where the Invisible Man is blindfolded to the end where he is walking down the streets of Harlem in dark glasses, images of sight and blindness add to the meaning of many scenes and characters....   [tags: English Literature] 1024 words
(2.9 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]
Essay on The Importance of Vision in Invisible Man - The Importance of Vision in Invisible Man     Is your life at risk and endangered if you are driving with your eyes off the road?  Is it safe to walk down a dark and dangerous alley where you cannot see what is in front of you?  Would it be a good idea to walk across the street without looking both ways first?  The answer to all these questions are no.  Why?  Because in all three situations, there is a lack of vision.  So, one can conclude that vision is of great importance to the visible world.  Nevertheless, vision is also equally important in the invisible world.  Because the most important things in our lives are invisible, vision into the invisible world is greatly needed to...   [tags: Invisible Man Essays]
:: 4 Works Cited
2791 words
(8 pages)
Powerful Essays [preview]
Analysing Invisible Man Essay - Analysing Invisible Man After reading this book I wondered what it would be like to be blind then gain sight, but realize you cannot see yourself because you are invisible. It seems like a cruel joke that once you can see you realize that you still cannot see who you are. Even though this seems like a very depressing event Ellison makes it seem like a positive thing. While, at the end of the story, the narrator still does not know his place in the world he seems to be glad that he is no longer blindfolded....   [tags: Invisible Man Ralph Ellison Essays] 1110 words
(3.2 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]
Essay on The Invisible Man - The Invisible Man Ralph Ellison speaks of a man who is “invisible” to the world around him because people fail to acknowledge his presence. The author of the piece draws from his own experience as an ignored man and creates a character that depicts the extreme characteristics of a man whom few stop to acknowledge. Ellison persuades his audience to sympathize with this violent man through the use of rhetorical appeal. Ethos and pathos are dominant in Ellison’s writing style. His audience is barely aware of the gentle encouragement calling them to focus on the “invisible” individuals around us....   [tags: The Prologue of the Invisible Man Essays]
:: 2 Works Cited
934 words
(2.7 pages)
Better Essays [preview]
Invisible Man Essay - One obvious theme that I picked up when I read Invisible Man was the theme of invisibility. I think the theme of invisibility has different meanings to it. One meaning is that invisibility suggests the unwillingness of others to see the individual as a person. The narrator is invisible because people see in him only what they want to see, not what he really is. Invisibility, in this meaning, has a strong sense of racial prejudice. White people often do not see black people as individual human beings....   [tags: Ralph Ellison, Invisible Man] 624 words
(1.8 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]