"The Invisible Man" by Ralph Ellison

Essay by Dan6College, UndergraduateA+, April 1997

download word file, 9 pages 3.0

Downloaded 121 times

In the novel, The Invisible Man, by Ralph Ellison, written in 1952, a young black man's struggle to find an identity in a harsh and very manipulative society is exemplified. The narrator's experience and struggles are often expressed through the memory of his grandfather's words, the people he has come in contact with, and the places ha has been. During the course of his life, he has learned many valuable lessons, both about society and himself. This is demonstrated by elements of the plot, characters, setting, and the underlying theme, and the application of foreshadowing. The moral message of the novel is as follows: You can never judge a book by it's cover, because the narrator thought the brotherhood was all together as one, but in reality they were just using him for what he had to offer; being a good public speaker.

The story begins with the narrator recounting his memories of his grandfather.

The most remarkable, and eventually the most haunting, of these is his memory of his grandfather's last words in which he claims to have been a traitor to his own people and urges his son to 'overcome `em with yeses, undermine `em with grins, agree `em to death and destruction, let `em swoller you till they vomit or bust wide open.' These words remain imprinted in the narrator's mind throughout the book, although he never fully understands their meaning. His grandfather's words eventually serve as catalyst for his subsequent disillusionments, the first of which occurs directly after he graduates from high school.

At this time, the narrator is invited to give a speech at a gathering of the town's leading white citizens. The speech he is planning to give expresses the view that humility is the essence of progress. Subconsciously, the words of...