Literary Elements In Invisible Man

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Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man: Universal Truths within a Literary Classic Ralph Ellison’s 1953 novel Invisible Man, revolves around the journey of an anonymous black man in the late 1920s /early 1930s. The Narrator, though a well-rounded and epically dynamic character, is never given a name throughout the entirety of the novel. Ellison masterfully pulls readers into the novel by starting the story with a man hiding underground, stealing electricity as a battle tactic with the Monopolated Light & Power company to light up 1,369 light bulbs in an underground room, his safe-haven from the Communist Brotherhood, from which he has recently been excluded. Using recurring motifs of blindness and invisibility, the novel circles the themes of struggling…show more content…
Ellison’s narrator discovers late in the novel that he ranks very low on the stratification scale within his own racial culture. He is repeatedly pitted against other men of color within the novel: during a blindfolded battle royal, he is judged too “ginger-colored” (Ellison 21) or as “Sambo” (Ellison 26). He is never seen as acceptable. In truth, he is never seen…until he sees himself at the end of the novel, within his bunker below the city. Similarly, Celie from The Color Purple (Walker) submits to severe sexual, verbal, physical, and emotional abuse from both her father and Mr. ___, because she believes her status, as a dark black woman, deserves such abuse. Though other black women within the novel encourage Celie to fight back, she does not begin to take back her life until she discovers Mr. ___’s cruelty in hiding Nettie’s letters for so many years. Neither Ellison’s Narrator nor Celie are inherently different from their counterparts, but the social stratification, layering of people into hierarchical levels, sets them apart as somehow “lesser” beings, demonized or diminished. Both characters travel difficult roads to overcome the status with which they have been pegged, but they finally do so: the Narrator into the isolation of his underground home and Celie into the comfort of being surrounded by other women of
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