Historical Information : Invisible Man

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Historical information: Invisible Man was published in 1952 by Ralph Ellison. Ellison laments the feeling of despondency and “invisibility” that many African Americans experience in the United States. Ellison uses W.E.B. Dubois, Booker T. Washington and Marcus Garvey as sources for the novel. W.E.B. Dubois wrote The Souls of Black Folk, where Dubois expresses his theory of the double-consciousness possessed by blacks. Booker T. Washington wrote Up from Slavery, which talks about his rise from slavery to freedom. This can be related to the novel in how the narrator rises from not knowing his identify to finding out who he genuinely is. He also directly relates to Washington’s 1895 Atlanta Compromise address in Chapter One, when the narrator writes of his grandparents "About eighty-five years ago they were told that they were free, united with others of our country in everything pertaining to the common good, and, in everything social, separate like the fingers of the hand". Lastly, Marcus Garvey inspires the role of Ras the Exhorter in the novel. Marcus was not as extreme as Ras, but he did believe that black people had to better their lives by banding together, as opposed to obtaining help from white America. 2) Biographical information: The grandson of slaves, Ralph Ellison was born in 1914 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, and was raised in Tulsa, Oklahoma. His father worked as a construction worker, and his mother was a domestic servant who also volunteered for the local
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