The Invisible Man By Ralph Ellison

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Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man is a story about a young African American man who struggles to break free from the black stereotype that white society has forced upon him. As Ellison’s views on the detrimental effects of stereotyping minorities become apparent throughout his novel, some readers would argue that his depictions of female characters seem to be slightly hypocritical—but in actuality, the narrator’s encounters with the female characters ultimately help him accept his invisibility, develop his character, and highlight the themes of invisibility and power. In the beginning of the novel, the narrator is invited to give his graduation speech at a “gathering of the towns leading white citizens” (Ellison 17); upon arriving at the event, he discovers that he is being forced to participate in the Battle Royal, a fight between African American classmates for the entertainment of the drunk white males of the community. During the Battle Royal, the narrator is constantly thinking about his image: “I suspected that fighting a battle royal might detract from the dignity of my speech. In those pre-invisible days I visualized myself as a potential Booker T. Washington” (Ellison 18). In Invisibility Embraced: The Abject as a Site of Agency in Ellison’s Invisible Man by Shelly Jarenksi, she says: “The narrator’s concerns about “dignity” and “potential” are significant because they announce the search for a culturally sanctioned identity that will dominate the novel until

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