Stereotypes In Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man

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Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man is a sensational narrative that traces the African American journey to freedom, following reconstruction and leading up to the civil rights movement. Ellison’s use of socio-historical data to construct his novel has served to make Invisible Man one of the truest retellings of the African America experience. Ellison’s work does not shy away from exposing unpleasant truths, regarding the struggle to obtain and secure self-identity in a country that relies on the power of stereotypes to protect social hierarchies that are already in place. Invisible Man’s richness resides in Ellison’s careful unweaving of the social tapestry through a system of reversals. Ellison identifies the prevailing stereotypes, which act as identifiers for many of his characters, and reverses them to expose the dangers of using stereotypes to characterize, and understand individuals. One of the stereotypes Ellison relies on throughout the novel, was first posited in Fredrick Douglass essay “Why is the Negro Lynched”, where the social…show more content…
Invisible man, at this point physically split between his racial identity-one requiring him to ignore the natural development of his sexuality in order to preserve his life, and his gender identity one that is symbolized in his growing erection and his desire to lust after the naked woman that stands before him, the narrator witnesses an unexpected likeness between himself and the dancer “above her red fixed smiling lips I saw the terror and disgust in her eyes, almost like my own terror that which I saw in the other boys” (Ellison 22). Invisible Man, still innocently naïve, is unsure how to process the significance of their shared terror, but it prepares the reader for the confusing relationship will have with race and gender throughout the
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