The Invisible Man Essay

1026 WordsMay 14, 20135 Pages
Throughout life there are moments where an individual must conform to society and the people around them in order to be accepted, however it is the individual actions and how the individual chooses to conform that creates their unique identity and place within that society. Ralph Ellison published the novel that follows a sense of outward conformity and obedience to an established order while at the same time invoking an inward questioning of the roles an individual plays within such an order. The main character is forced to conform to the cliché laws and expectations of the laws and expectations of the society that he lives in, in order to survive and function within them, while he privately goes against these societies in order to define…show more content…
His first conformity occurs during the Battle Royal conforming to the racial stereotype of blacks being violent and savage, “I was fighting automatically…Then on a sudden impulse I struck him lightly and he was clinched” (24), where the narrator conforms in for his own survival in the fight. The first evidence of the narrator noticing this conformity in a more abstract form while he is employed at Liberty Paints is when he is given the task of mixing paint, “I looked at the painted slab. It appeared the same: a gray tinge glowed through the whiteness…..a brilliant white diffused with gray” (205). This gray showing through the white paint symbolizes the accepted idea of the black understructure that supports the white society is ignored but still shows through. The narrator at first believes that he did something wrong with the paint, noticing this truth, but then ignores it when his supervisor is satisfied in the same way that society ignores the white reliance on blacks. The reference to the stereotype of black sexual potency is referred to multiple times towards the narrator, which is a major theme throughout the novel, until finally under the influence of the brotherhood he is seduced under the pretence, “it has so much naked power that it goes straight through one. I tremble just to think of such vitality” (413). The narrator tries to resist this seduction and deny this stereotype which ultimately proves to be false, but not before
Open Document