The patterns of trust and subsequent betrayal found in the Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison, serve to teach lessons about what it was like for African Americans in post-slavery America, when the book is set. The Invisible Man trusts easily and naively. Yet, despite working hard, he is betrayed by the institutions and people he looks up to as role models as they exploit his expectations for their own agenda. Overall, there are four strong examples of those taking advantage and hurting the Invisible Man. With each incident, he learns a lesson about how blatantly the black population is disregarded, along with being given an object that represents the underlying racism found in a society.
The narrator experiences grave racism which promotes him to change his definition of himself when he travels through a series of communities. Also, the Liberty Paints Plant prevents the narrator in fulfilling his wishes to identify himself due to the racism he undergoes. The Brotherhood initial helps the narrator but as time passes they completely betray him causing his identity to change. A person's identity will always be an essential part of their lifetime. Without an identity, people become lifeless and invisible.
Crooks is the only black stable-hand in the novel, he displays how he is isolated and discriminated due to his race, however, he fears others when they approach him because he doesn 't want to become more lonely. The other ranch-hands discriminates against him “‘cause [he’s] black. They play cards in there, but [he] can’t play because [he’s] black. They say [he] stink[s]” (68). However, when Lennie came to Crooks, he was very careful and defensive towards Lennie because of the thought that Lennie would also be like the other workers and discriminate him.
Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison follows the story of a young, educated black man struggling to survive and be successful in a racially divided society that refuses to see him as a human being. This story focuses on this nameless narrator and his journeys that lead to finding his identity. In chapters 1 through 8, many controversial events occur. In these chapters, the narrator has to give speeches to white people, fight in a battle royal just to get a scholarship, get betrayed by white and black folks, and carry with all the pain in his heart when he thinks about how he used to feel ashamed of his ancestors for being slaves. All of these events eventually help the narrator to develop his true identity and makes him realize that he is invisible.
Our next protagonist, Thelonious Ellison, although living in the twentieth century, seventy years after Bigger Thomas and nearly fifty after Invisible Man, he still suffered from racism. The oppression he experienced was slightly different from the one the two previous protagonists suffered. Yet it proved to be equally destructive on our character. Although being able to go to school, create art, mix and live among white man, Monk still had to put up with the stereotypes assigned to black men. Though the form of racism was less physical, it deeply affected Monk.
Yet, he is unable to overcome his blindness on himself, he falls into the path of other characters’ identities and beliefs on solutions to society’s issues. In addition, there are signs of imagery throughout the novel that invokes vision that reinforces the continuous idea of invisibility. Even though the idea of invisibility is thoroughly sustained, it fades away as the narrator realizes that he needs to find his own individuality and beliefs to benefit himself and society. The narrator bases his invisibility on people’s blind physical perception of his human existence. As a black man trying to find his identity in white America, he has the foundational belief of the recognition by white people to prove
Everything from his music and clothes that he gave to Beneatha to his attitude towards American black culture suggests that he disapproves of the new black culture he is engulfed in. Asagai also wants to share his culture and try to convert other assimilated blacks like Beneatha to support his traditional Nigerian culture. This is very controversial, especially since Nigerian culture is commonly thought to be constructed on living in “grass huts”. Like the Youngers, Asagai is fighting against the common black culture of Chicago and wishes for more blacks to embrace what he sees as the true culture of the blacks. The only person who really wants to embrace the black culture that Asagai professes is Beneatha and even she has misconceptions of what Nigerian culture truly is.
In his essay, "Just Walk On By: A Black Man Ponders His Power To Alter Public Space" Brent Staples demonstrates the negative views and stereotypes of black men. He narrates a personal story about the path he takes to understand the effects of his appearance and how it also affects his environment around him. In the essay, Staples describes how he has always been discriminated. This was first realized as a young graduate student when he takes a walk one evening and frightens a white woman who believed he was following her. The world is a hostile and violent place and the woman had a right to be fearful of him, but it troubles him that he cannot change the fact that he was the cause of this fear.
The effects of slavery impact each of the slaves’ lives in many ways, mainly their vision of self, which causes the division between the races to have tension. The central characters face the horrifying task of knowing or understanding themselves as human subjects in a society that “rejects the human status or identity of any black individual,” and for some characters this would permanently stunt the growth of the character in the novel (Cosca 9). When the slaves are freed and are able to become their own people, that is when tension between the races becomes more prominent because the white people still see themselves above the African Americans. The main character Sethe, is constantly feeling alienated from everyone, and she says her children are her only happiness. As a result of their alienation and separation, the characters end up depressed and constantly tired.
The Invisible Man narrates young black man´s process of self-discovering and self-growing and his struggle to gain recognition and to define his identity in a white American patriarchal society. Although the most relevant aspect in the novel is the fight the protagonist faces in order to obtain equality between races and gain visibility in the society, female characters seem to be completely forgotten, denied and lacking visibility and autonomy. Women´s othering and the oppression of a Western patriarchal system makes them as invisible throughout the novel as the protagonist-or even more-. In addition, female representatives in the novel are reduced to established roles and stereotypes which deny them any kind of individual personality. This
It may not be everywhere, but in many instances blacks fight over things that are irrelevant in the time we are living. Their eyes could be focused on vital things of life and the life to come, yet they continue to walk down the path that whties have led us to. Another issue that arises from slavery and Willie Lynch’s speech is self-hatred. Many African Americans have grown to hate “skin that they are in”. This causes them to continuously strive to be something that they are not.