Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man

1458 Words6 Pages
Analysis of Ralph Ellison’s “Invisible Man” “I am a man of substance, of flesh and bone, fiber and liquids―and I might even be said to possess a mind. I am invisible, understand, simply because people refuse to see me” (Ellison 3). Ralph Ellison’s “Invisible Man” demonstrates that racism and misguided ideologies are detrimental to individual identity, and it provides important lessons that are still relevant in America today. The point of the novel is to portray the effects of racism on an individual’s personal identity. Throughout the novel, the narrator, a young black male who remains unnamed, has his identity defined by others despite his efforts to use his education to define himself. At his high school graduation, he delivers a speech…show more content…
The Brotherhood, led by Bother Jack, consists of both black and white members and claims to be advocates for all groups of oppressed people. The narrator gives a passionate speech to a crowd of African Americans protesting the inhumane eviction of an elderly African American couple. This is when Brother Jack discovers him offers him a job as a public speaker for the Brotherhood. As a condition for taking the job, the narrator receives a new name, a new place to live―away from the people with whom he had become familiar, and is told what he must say. As he becomes successful in his prescribed role and becomes well known in the community, the narrator is accused of having selfish motives. He is sent away on new duties and is only brought back to his former job when things there fall apart. The narrator witnesses the killing of an unarmed former colleague by the police and organizes a march in protest without the sanction of the Brotherhood. The organization condemns his actions. Brother Jack says to him, “We do not shape our policies to the mistaken and infantile actions of the man on the street. Our job is not to ask them what they think but to tell them” (Ellison 473). Later, another white Brotherhood leader, Brother Hambro, tells the narrator that the members of his district (African Americans in Harlem), had to be sacrificed. Brother Hambro explained, “We are making temporary alliances with other political groups and the interests of one group of brothers must be sacrificed to that of the whole… We have to protect our gains. It’s inevitable that some must make greater sacrifice than others… We don’t have to worry about the aggressiveness of the Negroes. Not during the new period or any other. In fact, we now have to slow them down for their own good. It’s a scientific necessity” (Ellison
Open Document