Essay about Ellison's Invisible Man

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Written in a brilliant way, Ralph Ellison’s “Invisible Man” captures the attention of the reader for its multi-layered perfection. The novel focuses an African American living in Harlem, New York. The novelist does not name his protagonist for a couple of reasons. One reason is to show his confusion of personal identity and the other to show he is “invisible”. Thus he becomes every Black American who is in search of their own identity. He is a true representative of the black community in America who is socially and psychologically dominated everywhere. The narrator is invisible to others because he is seen by the stereotypes rather than his true identity. He takes on several identities to find acceptance from his peers, but eventually …show more content…
An example of the narrator’s invisibility is his belief that he is nothing without light. “Without light I am not only invisible, but formless as ... well; and to be unaware of one's form is to live a death. I myself, after existing some twenty years, did not become alive until I discovered my invisibility.” (Pg. 6) This quote suggests that invisibility is part of the narrator’s identity. “Twenty years” represents the long amount of time it took for him to realize his invisibility. Having experiences with various people made him see his insignificance. It is “light” that makes him noticeable.
The quote is both literal and metaphorical. It’s Literal in a sense that he has 1,369 light bulbs in his room, and metaphorical that “light” makes the unseen “seen”. His desire to be seen for who he genuinely is makes him resort to stealing light. For it is light that makes him believe his existence is real, that he is not a thought roaming the city of Harlem. When he says “to be unaware of one's form is to live a death” (6) shows that if one doesn’t know who they truly are, they are dead. The dead have no label; they are lifeless, forgotten by society.
This quote shows the narrator’s struggle to be seen and his regret that he didn’t realize it sooner. He had lived all these years, repeating the same old mistakes. Being used and lied to, to help the people in power become even more powerful. They preyed on his innocence and longing for attention. Yet
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