Desiree 's Free Enterprise And Ralph Ellison 's Invisible Man
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As observed throughout history and various societies, the notion of a “racial hierarchy” proves to be a superficial design which ultimately assigns value to a group of people based solely upon their skin color. As a result, certain groups are promptly associated with influence and supremacy, while others are disregarded in their “inherent” inferiority. Michelle Cliff’s Free Enterprise and Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man approach this paradigm by facilitating their readers’ understandings regarding the debilitating ostracism associated with the social construct of “blackness,” as well as the metaphorical societal invisibility that is suffered as a result. In Free Enterprise, Cliff’s implementation of the motif of black invisibility is…show more content… This is most poignantly demonstrated through their enduring inquisition of whether “their names were called at holiday gatherings,” an unfulfilled curiosity in regards to the simple recollection of their existences (Cliff 42). From an analytical standpoint, the colony is a metaphor for the dehumanization and erasure of black identity as a means of societal marginalization and disposal.
Akin to Cliff’s work, Ellison’s Invisible Man approaches the nature of black identity through the novel’s discounted main character. A scene which ties into the concept of invisible “blackness” in the face of “whiteness” is one wherein the unnamed protagonist accidentally bumps into another man on the street, resulting in what one can assume to be a derogatory racial epithet directed towards him (Ellison 4). The invisible man demands an apology from the white perpetrator, a recognition of his humanity, but his black identity and the notion of white supremacy prevent it. Even in a position of considerable vulnerability, with “torn skin” and “lips frothy with blood,” the white man cannot bring himself to apologize, as this would be an acknowledgment of the black man’s existence, a disruption of the racial hierarchy (Ellison 4). The dehumanization resulting from the notion of “blackness” as inferior results in the character’s societal confinement and fleeing from the outside world to his “hole in the ground,” an