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Invisible Man Essay: Invisible Man and the Pre-Made Identity

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Invisible Man and the Pre-Made Identity

 
Society forms definitions, or stereotypes, of people according to the color of their skin, their economic status, or where they live. Stereotypes define how society believes these people should act and how they should be treated. These stereotypes are, in effect, a pre-made identity.

There are three options an individual must face when presented with this pre-made identity. The individual can accept this identity as his/her own. This would maximize the individuals acceptance into society, but at a considerable price. The individual would lose power, become exploitable, suppress and consequently lose his/her own "true identity," and then would become one of many faces in the crowd. The "true identity" would be stifled and strangled under the one imposed by society. Anger, frustration , and confusion would occupy the mind of the individual. The individual could reject this identity outright and could circumvent the accumulation of this anger and confusion, but not without consequences. This person may be branded a heretic and be rejected by society. They would lose their agency and legitimacy in the society and would lose any hopes of bringing about any change. The third option entails living a lie. On the surface the individual would embrace society's identity, but keep their true self hidden within. This option would allow the person to retain their agency in the society and their individuality. However, like the other two options, there exists a downside. The person would constantly have to put on the mask a particular community wants him/her to wear in order to conform to that community's ideals. It then becomes almost impossible for anyone to get to know the real person, hid...


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...come invisible. 

 

Works Cited and Consulted

Bellow, Saul. "Man Underground" Review of Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man. Commentary. June 1952. 1st December 2001

Available: http://www.english.upeen.edu/~afilreis /50s/bellow-on-ellison.html

Ellison, Ralph. Going to the Territory. New York: Random House, 1986.

Fabre, Michel. "In Ralph Ellison's Precious Words." Unpublished Manuscript. 1996. 30 November. <http://www.igc.org/dissent/archive/ Ellison/early.html

Howe, Irving. "Review of: Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man" Pub. The Nation. 10 May 1952. 30 November 1999. <http://www.english.upenn.edu/~afilreis/50s/howe-on-ellison.html.

O'Meally, Robert. The Craft of Ralph Ellison. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1980.

O'Meally, Robert, ed. New Essays on Invisible Man. Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press, 1988.



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