Invisible Man Essay: Ellison's Influences and Inspirations

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Ellison's Influences and Inspirations for Invisible Man

All authors draw upon past experiences, people they have known, places they have been, as well as their own philosophy of life to write. Ralph Ellison, in his book Shadow and Act refers to this process when he writes, "The act of writing requires a constant plunging back into the shadow of the past where time hovers ghostlike" (xix). In preparing to write his novel he notes that, "[d]etails of old photographs and rhymes and riddles and children's games, church services and college ceremonies, practical jokes and political activities observed during my prewar days in Harlem-all fell into place" (xxvii). While the novel Invisible Man is not
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He no doubt used his own reaction to the party as a basis for the Invisible Man's attraction to the Brotherhood. Robert G. O'Meally in an article for the Encyclopedia of African-American Culture and History entitled "Ellison, Ralph" notes that his introduction to the party was by way of the writer Richard Wright who was editing New Challenge, a leftist magazine, and who asked Ellison to write for the magazine (885). Ellison's eventual disillusionment with the party is reflected in the Invisible Man's rejection of the Brotherhood as self-serving and not actually interested in the rights of Black Americans.

The last section of the novel concerns the race riot that ends with the Invisible Man escaping into his hole in the ground to think about what has happened to him and what he is going to do about it. This episode was based on the Harlem race riots of 1943. In an article entitled "Harlem Riots of 1935 and 1943" in the Encyclopedia of African- American Culture and History, Gayle T. Tate relates that the Harlem riots of August 1943 started as a result of built up tensions between the people of Harlem and the police. The riots were touched off by an incident between a woman and the management of the Bradock Hotel. When the police arrested this person, another woman and her son attempted to defend her, and the police