Double Blindness In Ralph Ellison's The Invisible Man

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In Ralph Ellisons’ novel, “The Invisible Man”, the protagonist, whose name is never revealed, perceives himself to be invisible in a literal and figurative sense. The context of the novel focuses on a black man, who was forced to adapt to a white Western environment as he increasingly succumbs to the idea that he is invisible. There is a sense that his black skin makes him appear more visible but also erases him from the white Western environment. He perceives himself, in light of Franz Fanon’s “Black Skin White Masks” only through the eyes of the white Other. This idea of “double blindness” runs through the entire novel and displays the extent to which protagonist is blinded by his reality to the extent that he perceives himself as invisible. The story begins when the narrator, after fighting many of his peers in a savage manner, has the opportunity to go to college. He studies there for three years after which he was sent away after an unfortunate…show more content…
The novel opens with a scenario following shortly after the epiphany that the protagonist had upon realizing that he is invisible. The story is narrated by him in retrospect whereby the idea of a first-person narrator which links to an invisible storyteller highlights the man’s invisibility. Furthermore, the protagonist’s name is never revealed in the novel which would suggest that we are receiving the information from a third party outsider. The narrator seems to have no personal investment in the words he speaks yet they are spoken by him. The prologue starts with the sentence “I am an invisible man” which links to the sentence in the Epilogue that states “I am an invisible man and it has placed me in a hole”. These two sentences sum up the chronological tensions in the novel and emphasize the man’s anonymity in his ironic double blindness at both the beginning and end of the
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