Finding Ralph Ellison In Phillip Roth's The Human Stain Analysis

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Finding Ralph Ellison in Phillip Roth’s The Human Stain Phillip Roth’s, The Human Stain, is a novel that relies heavily on the literary path of race set forth by Ralph Ellison in The Invisible Man. In Roth’s novel it is not enough for Coleman Silk to be merely invisible, like the narrator in Ellison’s novel, instead Silk changes his identity in attempt to erase the stain of being African American. It would be remiss to say that Coleman Silk is the second coming of the invisible narrator that Ellison has imagined, however, The Human Stain is the cultural, social, and above all racial, successor to Ellison’s novel. Ralph Ellison is identifiable present having stained Roth’s novel irreparably. Upon closer examination of The Human Stain the reader will find that Ellison is visible in: the usage of the term “spook” as the fulcrum point on which the plot is developed; the use of boxing as a metaphor for the cultural and social arena surrounding racial issues; Coleman Silk as the educated extension of the narrator from The Invisible Man; and the role of the veteran. The term “spook” as a racial pejorative is a substantial word in both The Invisible Man and The Human Stain. Ellison’s narrator states: “I am an invisible man. No, I am not a spook like those that haunted Edgar Allen Poe [. . .] I am a man of substance, flesh and bone, fiber and liquids – and I might even be said to possess a mind. I am invisible, understand, because people simply refuse to see me” (The Invisible
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