This is an essay about the symbolism regarding the roles of Women In Ralph Ellison's 'Invisible Man'.

Essay by elchivojHigh School, 12th gradeA, October 2002

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The taboo of the white woman plays a major role in the literary as well as political history of the United States. Ralph Ellison illustrates this by including several notable characters in Invisible Man that fulfill different stereotypes regarding the relationships between white women and young black men. An example of one of these stereotypes would be the innocent white woman who is 'accused' of being raped by the virile, primitive, sexually eminent black man. Each of the white female characters is somewhat depicted as an actress, playing the role of the Invisible man's victim. For example, the Sybil character is literally trying to create a fictional role-playing situation of the rapist and his victim. The stripper's role at the smoker was to be victimized from the get-go, but the invisible man did not play an active part in contributing to the stripper's unfortunate situation. The white woman in Chapter 19, by pressuring the Invisible Man, was subliminally creating a situation that would make it seem as if the he was taking advantage of her due to her marital status, but it was the IM himself who ended up feeling alienated after the experience.

It is unclear as to what Emma sees in the Invisible man, but the first implication is that she is attracted to him because of the virile, sexually proficient black man image. The purpose of using these characters in Ellison's literary setting is to address the stereotypes of how black men deal with situations with white women in different positions, from a lowly entertainer to the wife of a high ranking Brotherhood official. The Invisible Man acts quite differently when dealing with each of these situations, in some he stands his ground, in others he fulfills the stereotypes quite clearly.

The performance of the stripper...