Personal Identity In Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man

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Identity is defined as “the qualities, beliefs, etc., that make a particular person or group different from others.” Knowing and understanding one’s identity is something has been denied to African-Americans throughout the entire history of the United States, and is essentially the purpose of the Invisible Man’s journey in Ralph Ellison’s novel Invisible Man. A lack of understanding of one’s identity is a cause for not knowing who you truly are, and therefore do not have the ability to form opinions, perspectives or a place in which a sense of belonging is felt. Ellison communicates the instability of the Invisible Man’s identity through changing states of water, and adjectives of water alike.
Ellison communicates Invisible Man’s initial lack
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Ellison fittingly writes about the multi-layered, complicated topic in a complicated and multi-layered fashion. It appears that Ellison chose to spend so much of the novel centered around identity because African-Americans have had a complicated relationship with identity since slavery, when names, and identities, were assigned to slaves, and all ties to former cultures were severed. Ellison was raising the lack of self-proclaimed identity in the African-American community due to systemic racism. The Great Migration was the prominent social movement happening during the time at which Invisible Man is both set and published. At this time many black were migrating northward, and simultaneously abandoning their established identities in order to be accepted in the uniformity in the North. He was raising up and speaking of the plight of these African-Americans, those before them, and that of African-Americans today that have trouble finding their identities due to the systemic racism of the media and many traditional institutions. The day when African-Americans are able to form their own identities will be the day that they will no longer be oppressed by
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