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Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man Essay

Assignment id 1006884
Discipline Self Improvement
Assignment type Essay
Words 2988
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Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man A perverted coming-of-age narrative, Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man follows a tormented, nameless protagonist as he struggles to discover himself from the circumstance of the racially charged 1950s. Ellison uses the question of existence "out" background as a vehicle to show that identity can't exist within a vacuum, but has to be shaped in reaction to other people. To reside outside history would be to become invisible, ignored by the authors of history: "For history records that the patterns of men's liveswho fought and who won and who lived to lie about it afterwards" (439). Invisibility is the fundamental trait of this protagonist's identity, embodied by the notion of living outside history. Ellison uses the notion of living beyond the scope of background as a method to illustrate the principal character's procedure of self-awakening, to demonstrate that identity is contradictory and to mimic the structural motion of the publication. Ellison's protagonist inquires on the afternoon of Tod Clifton's passing, "Which were the historians today? And would they put it down?" (439). With these inquiries he begins to question his own identity and position relative to history. Once the Man accepts he too exists outside of history, he steps out the book into the prologue and epilogue, a stage from which he admits, internalizes and verbalizes his invisibility. The Invisible Man never believes he could live outside of background since he typically identifies with white men and women who reside inside of history and are the recorders of history. Even though chauffeuring Mr. Norton, he proclaims, "I identified myself with the wealthy man reminiscing on the rear seat" (39). Compared to the "inevitable selection of white women and men in smiles, apparent of attribute...

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