Duality In Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man

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Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man is a novel that centers itself on conspicuous inauthenticity. The present duality in conjunction with essentialism within the novel echoes the ironies of inherent racism within our society. Trueblood’s dichotomous role within society serves to emphasize the dynamics within the cultural structure. His incestuous transgression results in his ostracism from the black community and simultaneously the white community rewarding him, Trueblood is surprised by their reaction he says “they gimme more help than they ever give any other colored man, no matter how good a nigguh he was.” (67). To Trueblood, the distinction between “good” and bad is obscure, morally he committed “the worse thing a man could ever do to his family”…show more content…
Trueblood represents the stereotypical “black” aspect behind the veil of black respectability. His identity serves as a physical reminder of the racial hierarchy and oppression during slavery. Not only does he reflect the notion that black men are unable to control their animalistic and sexually deviant tendencies but he even resides in a house that was “built during slavery times” (47). Even his name is symbolic “True Blood” insinuates that he is an embodiment of the “true” nature of African American people. While the college is attempting to elevate the perception of black individuals Trueblood is a constant reminder of the negative stereotypes they are trying to rid themselves of, the narrator echoes the fears of the black community, that due to Trueblood’s depravity the racist white perception will promote this as representative of the black community and “say that all negroes do such things" (58). Respectability politics serve to mandate the oppressed attitudes towards their oppression, the burden of gaining respect falls entirely on the marginalized group to fulfill the dominant culture’s
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