Invisible Man Narrator Essay

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Reliability is an intriguing topic within the world of literature due to the vast amount of speculation on what makes a narrator reliable or unreliable. It comes down to whether or not the narrator’s words are trusted. Ralph Ellison’s narrator in Invisible Man (I.M.) is not a reliable narrator. Within the novel, I.M. is proven to be emotional, naive, and has undergone traumatic events in the course of the novel. These aspects of the narrator cause his recollection to be untrustworthy; however. This only helps Ellison to convey his book’s message more clearly and effectively. I.M.’s character is a large factor compromising his reliability as a narrator; he gets swept away by his emotions or is too naive to understand his own situation. He…show more content…
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). His anger at being offered Pork Chops depicts the paranoia of knowing you’re different from your surroundings. The narrator’s rampant emotions are the middle men when getting the message to the readers. If the scenes from the book simply happened without any lashing out on the narrator’s part the subtleties of their prejudice would go unnoticed more often than not. In 1952 , when Invisible man was published, the phrase “you people” would have gotten little more than a second glance if not for I.M.’s reaction to the blatant division of the races. If it were not for the I.M.’s character and situations, the message would not have gotten through during the time period it was written; these aspects that make the narrator unreliable, make him relatable
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