The Issue of Identity Formation Depicted in Ralph Ellison's Novel, Invisible Man

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All of us go though a period of discovery of our identities. The novel Invisible Man, by Ralph Ellison, addresses the issue of identity formation by following the efforts of an invisible man in search of his identity. He considers himself to be “invisible” because people refuse to see him for his individuality and intelligence..The narrator in the novel Invisible Man is invisible to others and to himself because of effects of racism and the expectations of others. This is supported in significant parts of the novel such as the “battle royal,” his time in the Brotherhood, and the Harlem riot. The narrator’s invisibility first comes up in chapter one, where he is invited to a community meeting consisting of prestigious white citizens. …show more content…
Ellison also supports his claim when he refers to their “dirty ears,” the “dirt” symbolizing the racist trash that has built up in the minds of the white men, affecting their choice not to give the narrator their full attention and respect he deserves as a human being. The narrator shows in the basement that he is truly blind to the white oppression that controls his life. He lets himself be ridiculed by turning into a puppet for the white crowd for entertainment purposes. Still, he holds onto the assumption that if he degrades himself, he will be rewarded in the end. As a result, the narrator does not advance in his journey to find his identity, but rather degrades himself even more and makes himself dependent on other’s opinions. Furthermore, the narrator appears invisible to others and to himself during his time as a member of the Brotherhood, an organization that appears in the novel as a euphemism to the Communist Party in real life. The narrator joins the Brotherhood in the hopes of creating an identity for himself within the organization by acquiring recognition as a prestigious black leader. He is under the assumption that the Brotherhood recognizes his ideas, his individuality, his intelligence, and soon becomes dedicated and loyal to their cause. However, the narrator does not discover the Brotherhood’s true intentions until after Brother Clifton’s funeral. The Brotherhood turns against the narrator for his belligerent speech at the funeral that
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