Blog 6

May 27th, 2011

I found the book “Invisible Man” by Ralph Ellison to be a terrific read.  Instead of just giving a run-of-the-mill explanation of class and racial differences, it uses the idea of invisibility to express that gap in our society.  The narrator used other people’s opinions and ideals to seemingly define himself, for he saw himself as invisible.  He didn’t know his own identity because the ones around him never really showed him.  The “Battle Royale” part of the story was probably the most intense and gut wrenching; finally the narrator thinks he is going to be appreciated and understood as a person, but instead he is treated as the exact opposite.  Not only is he blindfolded, a huge representation of the invisibility that followed him around the entire book, but he is made to fight for money against other African American students while the rich white men stand around and shout at them.  He was brought down to the level of an animal; underappreciated and subhuman.  This isn’t what the narrator is, but Ellison uses this moment to explain how the other half saw him – and what he used to define himself which is completely sad and tragic.  After he suffered from amnesia, the narrator couldn’t even remember his own name.  At this point, the doctors use his ethnicity and race to try and define him by asking him questions that only a black child would have really known – something that seems to offend the narrator, who can’t even remember his own name – thus intensifying his true belief that he is invisible.  At the end of the book the narrator is finally, “free of illusion,” (Ellison 569) and finally is able to shake away from the identity he so believed defined him and who he is; he is able to accept himself and the man he has become.

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