The Narrator's Metamorphosis in Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man

2968 Words 12 Pages
The Narrator's Metamorphosis in Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man

A mere glance at the title of Ralph Ellison's book, Invisible Man, stimulates questions such as, "Who is this man?" and, more importantly, "Why is this man invisible?" The anonymous narrator of Ellison's novel begins by assuring the reader that he is, in fact, a real person and is not invisible in the Hollywood sense of the term, but, rather, invisible "simply because people refuse to see" him for who he really is (3). The actions of both blacks and whites toward the anonymous narrator of the novel during his search for identity lead him to this conclusion.

The narrator begins the story of his realization of his invisibility at the end of his high school days, as an
…show more content…
The narrator's poor childhood relations with the white race bring him into adulthood with preconceived notions that eventually lead to the realization of his invisibility.

The narrator continues his arguably successful path in college until a point toward the end of his junior year. While taking Mr. Norton, one of the white trustees, out for a drive in the area of the college, Mr. Norton asks the narrator to stop the car so he can talk with Jim Trueblood, the infamous black man who had gained sympathy from whites, but enmity from blacks because he got his daughter pregnant. Mr. Norton begins to feel sick from the heat of the sun, so the narrator takes him to Golden Day, a home for black veterans. Neither destination shows the best of the black race, but in stopping at Trueblood's home, the narrator simply obeys Mr. Norton, taking him where he so desires. Then, when Mr. Norton feels sick, the narrator takes him where he can, which just so happens to be Golden Day. Though the narrator does what he deems proper, Dr. Bledsoe, president of the narrator's college, expels the narrator because he, as president, concerns himself too greatly with his own position and possesses no concern for the people of his own race. He explains to the narrator before expelling him, "This is a power set-up, son, and I'm at the controls" (142). Dr. Bledsoe acts not on behalf of the black race or the school, but on his own behalf, to maintain his own position. Shortly thereafter, he
Open Document