Ralph Ellison’s novel, Invisible Man, does accurately captures the racial injustice of 1940’s America. Due to growing up in a black-and-white colored world, the protagonist finds himself the reason for ridicule amongst whites in his own Southern community. He moves to New York to change this, and finds himself the leader of the Harlem Branch of the Brotherhood, a group that stands for black and white unity. However, he soon finds he is still overcome with racial prejudice wherever he goes. Through his experiences, he realizes that he is invisible to others, hence the name Invisible Man.
Ellison uses Invisible man to highlight the racism and Prejudice within society; despite the narrator’s lack of reliability, these themes are still conveyed effectively. Not only does our narrator detail the differences between black and white people, but also northern and southern people so that even the southern white man could read this book and relate to the feeling. All of his delusions, and outbursts add to the societal situation that Ellison wanted depicted in his work. The subtle racism that threatens to be brushed aside is deafening as I.M. rages on about Tobbit defending himself by being “...married to a fine, intelligent Negro girl” (468).
Invisibility is often depicted as a heroic superpower or the effect of being completely translucent, however in Ralph Ellison’s classic novel, The Invisible Man, the concept of invisibility is portrayed as an odd nature of the eyes of those a person comes in contact with. He takes us through a journey in which he tries to find and make light of himself, despite his acknowledgement of self-invisibility, however he encounters racial conflicts which make such accomplishments rather difficult. Racial issues, as well as the search for self-identity, shape the protagonist’s views on himself, his surroundings and the universal world throughout and reflect his own experiences in the 1930’s. Ellison’s constant reference to the colors of black and white demonstrates America in terms of racism. The protagonist encounters multiple symbols that portray white dominance and black minority.
Without knowledge of these two black literary traditions, understanding the motives of Brother Jack, and more importantly Dr Bledsoe, are nearly impossible. Masking and signifying were methods of survival for blacks (and whites) trying to make it in the world. They were also ways to take advantage of others who were less informed of the world. Ralph Ellison writes the narrator as a person naive of the world at first, who gradually learns, through masking and signifying, that the world is a colder place than originally thought. The lessons the narrator learns from Dr Bledsoe and Brother Jack go a long way in establishing the identity of the man who chooses to live underground for the remainder of his life.
Racism is one of the most important social and national issues that face the word. As resistance literature is decrying oppression, injustice, terrorism and violations of the people rights , it also decries racism .Ralph Ellison is one of the writers of the resistance literature , who is fighting against racism though his writings. Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison , represents resistance literature and its important issues which is racism ; through racial polices and the loss of individual identity. The novel starts with the narrator who is college-educated black man struggling to survive and succeed in a racially divided society that refuses to see him as a human being, he introduces himself as an "invisible man" which is the title of the novel . He was invisible not because of any thing medical but because of the people who refuse to see him " I am invisible understand, simply because people refuse to see me "(Ralph Ellison .7)and consider him as something that not existed because of his black color skin and the racial relationship between the white people of America and the black ones.
The introduction chapter of Invisible Man is about the narrator’s inspiration for the novel and the setting of a war time environment helped him develop the main character. Ellison found similarities between the people he has known and acquainted to the invisible man. Ellison alludes to the struggles of self-definition and the support of individual dignity, all that the invisible man lacks. The narrator clearly describes a black man who does not feel accepted by his own race let alone the white race. This makes the character feel singled out, thus, the invisible man.
Several instances show in the novel that characters say something and their actions don’t match their word. For instance, when the Widow Douglas told Huck that he could not smoke because smoking was “a mean practice and wasn't clean” (2). Miss Watson herself, however, chewed tobacco. Other characters in the novel also serve as the form of satire to hypocrites. The duke, right away says that “ - all black men are thieves - ” (--).
Symbols of Enslavement and Freedom To get rid of blindness, the Invisible Man stepwise but certainly begins to appreciate that initially he has to accept and confess who he is and which race he belongs to, his ancestors and all the issues happening from this. Yet, he does not always achieve to overcome the problems and insults reasoned by his origins, also owing to many assaulting symbols and ideas which still continue to exist in society although the central character lives in an age more than eighty-five years after the end of slavery. However, the Invisible Man must find himself, his honor and his self-regard, in order to find the way to his ancestry and his race. Not only does he constantly come across prejudiced and narrow-minded people but he also gets in contact with images and symbols that mock and insult him as well as dispraise his race in general. There is no doubt, coin bank is one of these symbols, that, first of all obscure to him, is located in the corner of the Invisible Man’s rented room—“the cast-iron figure of a very black, red lipped and wide-mouthed Negro, whose white eyes stared up at [him] from the floor, his face an enormous grin, his single large black hand held palm up before his chest.
When moving away from the south, Macon Dead II tries everything possible to gain urban respectability and success through his possession of property and money. Nevertheless, he begins to lose himself slowly in the process of blending into the white community. During this time, he becomes a perplexed, isolated and sad black man, who seeks the ability to fit into the white society. While trying to own himself and begin to take control of his fate, he becomes enslaved in the materialistic society through his belongings. He gradually forgets his black identity and begins to look down upon the poor blacks of his community.
In that way I am quite visible to the rest of society. The concept of invisibility follows the existentialist theme of choice. You have a choice between accepting invisibility or trying to stand out and make yourself seen. The narrator made the choice to be invisible and has accepted the benefits and the consequences of his decision. I have likewise made parts of myself invisible and other parts visible and have suffered and benefited from that choice.