Invisible Man Identity Essay

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Olivia Seeney
ENGL 365
The Invisible Man and Racial Identity
The Invisible Man is a story of individuality, equality, and identity. Many of the issues that the Invisible Man encounters during his search for purpose during this time, are applicable to individuals in the society that we live in today. Is it better to exchange our racial and cultural differences for secure equality? Or should we encourage the individuality of each culture’s differing values, characteristics, and attitudes, while recognizing that doing so nearly removes any hope for complete equality between separate nations? These conflicting views are displayed throughout this novel as the Invisible Man struggles to find himself as an African American man in a
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Much like in today’s society, people have been blinded by racial stereotypes when confronted with differences and disagreements. These confrontations lead to hate and misunderstandings between those of different races or cultures. Even within the same culture there are differences that cause individuals to misjudge one another and discriminate against those who are like them. “Racist whites sarcastically project undesirable traits upon black bodies (Hsu).” Hsuan Hsu states that “as a result of such racial projections, blacks are susceptible to both the over-identification with white ideals which Ellison’s protagonist often feels and the counter-identification which fuels the racial nationalist crusade against any interaction whatsoever with whites (Hsu).” The words of the Invisible Man’s grandfather follow the protagonist throughout his life and serve as a reminded to him that he should not let the white men that tower over him control him. He believes that in order to survive without betraying his own race one must be underhanded in the way that they live their life. Due to conflicting ideals and frames of mind the Invisible Man is tossed about his life without proper direction. Unknowingly, the protagonist of this story is one that is taken advantage of easily due to his naivety and willingness to obey those that he perceives to be superior to him.
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