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Essay about Betrayal of Self in Ellison's Invisible Man

Project id 1016238
Subject area Arts Entertainment
Document type Essay
Words 3336
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Betrayal of Self in Ellison's Invisible Man  In Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man, the nameless narrator is betrayed by a small number of different characters - for that reason his life remains in a constant state of upheaval through the novel. Confusion and a lack of personal vision trigger the "Invisible Man" to trust several personalities whose layouts for him are less than virtuous. Oftentimes these characters betray the Invisible Man, whose reactions to stated betrayals form the greater portion of the publication.     The narrator's deference to others' fantasies and ideals impels his hapless existence. Essentially, betrayal of connection necessitates the Invisible Person's mobility and movement due to his continual deference to other people. At the start of the book, the narrator foreshadows that the rest of the book in a fantasy sequence. He dreams of his dead grandfather who tells him to start a briefcase he only received. (In the next paragraph I'll address how he obtained this briefcase and its importance in the novel's grand scheme.) The dream sequence in short: the narrator opens his briefcase and spies an envelope stamped with the state seal; he tears open that envelope only to find another envelope, then rips open that envelope only to find another, etc.. After opening a seemingly endless number of envelopes, the narrator's grandfather tells him "Them's years... open that one... Read it... Out loud!" (33.) The narrator defers to Rocco's fantasies and reads aloud: "To Whom It May Concern, Keep This Nigger-Boy Running" (33.) Hereafter the shameful narrator does just that. Figuratively, betrayal keeps him running across the rest of the novel, always venturing out of place to place and situati...

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