Invisible Man Essay: Invisible Man and the Pre-Made Identity

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Invisible Man and the Pre-Made Identity Society forms definitions, or stereotypes, of people according to the color of their skin, their economic status, or where they live. Stereotypes define how society believes these people should act and how they should be treated. These stereotypes are, in effect, a pre-made identity. There are three options an individual must face when presented with this pre-made identity. The individual can accept this identity as his/her own. This would maximize the individuals acceptance into society, but at a considerable price. The individual would lose power, become exploitable, suppress and consequently lose his/her own "true identity," and then would become one of many faces in the crowd. The…show more content…
The novel is written in the perspective of a young African American man who migrated to New York City from the South. It is told in flashback. The narrator begins his story already knowing of his "invisibility" and details the events and people in his life that lead him to that realization. The narrator never names himself. This act can be interpreted as symbolic and reinforces the idea of invisibility, since the reader never learns who this person really is. The narrator begins his tale in the South. He has just graduated from High School and is asked by a prominant member of his southern community to present his graduation speech to a gathering of the "leading white citizens"(Ellison17) of the community, since "[he] was considered an example of desirable conduct." (Ellison 17) He agrees. When he arrived at "the main ballroom of the leading hotel," he "discovered that it was on the occasion of a smoker, and [he] was told that since [he] was to be there anyway [he] might as well take part in the battle royal to be fought by some of [his] schoolmates as part of the entertainment."(Ellison 17) By participating in the battle royal, the narrator conformed to the expectations the community had set up for him as an African American. He does not realize that he is doing this, however. He thinks that he is just going to give a speech to gain prominance in the community, instead of playing out a
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