The Theme Of Racism In Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man

Decent Essays

In chapters 2-4 of Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man, the narrator is now enrolled in an historically black college and feels both as if he owes something to the black community back home and that he is superior to them. Through his interactions with Mr. Norton, Trueblood, and the veteran, it is revealed just how severely entrenched the narrator and his student peers are in their complex of internalized racism.
The narrator's fascination and zeal to please Mr. Norton during his visit has an exaggerated emphasis on the fact that he's white, his founder and donor status seeming a subordinate reason compared to his race. The narrator begins the drive with Norton thinking to himself, “Of course I knew he was a founder, but I also knew it was advantageous to flatter rich white folks”(Ellison 38). Although this is obviously not a principle explicitly taught in the college the concept has nevertheless reached the minds of the students. The narrator and presumably the other black students in the school are being fed the notion that validation and approval must be received from white people regardless other components of their status, whether from the institution itself or a much earlier conditioning. The narrator also exhibits a timid fascination with Mr. Norton as one would act when with a celebrity. He is caught between seeing Mr.Norton as, “the kind of white man [he] feared”(Ellison 41), and the kind of man that the narrator finds himself engrossed with his words of approval. This

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