Theme Of Blues In Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man

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In the article, “Blues as a Literary Theme,” Gene Bluestein asserts that the theme of Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man is the blues. Not in the literal sense of the feeling, but in the sense of the musical genre and all that it has to offer. Through emphasizing the American mold “without a past or anterior folklore which will serve to define his national values and literary expression,” Bluestein argues that the narrator fit this mold and, therefore, depicted a lot of bluesy ideals. In other words, he argues that the narrator of Invisible Man incorporates little of his past life to show his creative expression through speech, and this parallels with the ideal American man that is emphasized in blues music. Yet, the ideals that were shown in the book and found in blues music are best shown through the author’s own words. Bluestein cites Ellison’s definition of blues as, “an impulse to keep the painful details and episodes of a brutal experience alive in one's aching consciousness . . . As a form, the blues is an autobiographical chronicle of personal catastrophe expressed lyrically” (Bluestein). In making this comment, Bluestein is showing through Ellison’s words the similarity between the novel and the genre that it is a piece that shows someone’s own…show more content…
There are many controversies and interpretations surrounding this novel. Some argue that it is a story about going from invisibility to visibility, from ignorance to enlightenment through the naming of the self and identity (Neighbors). Yet others like Gene Bluestein argue that it is a story that through the blues shows the story of the American identity and equality (Bluestein). I will mostly agree with Bluestein that this novel does show obvious “bluesy” tendencies since it backs my understanding of the novel which is a story, like Neighbors said, about coming “from ignorance to
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