An Introduction to…. Invisible Man!. Visible M e !. The first thing you need to know: I love this book. “Invisible Man: Ralph Ellison Memorial” statue at Riverstone Park and 150 th Street in the Harlem section of Upper Manhattan, NYC. Ralph Ellison lived opposite the park.
Visible Me!The first thing you need to know: I love this book.
“Invisible Man: Ralph Ellison Memorial” statue at Riverstone Park and 150th Street in the Harlem section of Upper Manhattan, NYC. Ralph Ellison lived opposite the park.
H.G. Wells’ 1897 science fiction novella about an actual invisible manThe second thing you need to know: This is a different book.
Our book was written by this guy…
The reason that Ellison’s protagonist is invisible…
“Ellison … created far more than a commentary on race. He … attempted to decipher the
cruel AND beautifulparadox
that is America,
a country founded on
high ideals AND cold-blooded betrayals.”
– Random House Publishers
“[W]e were to affirm the principle on which the country was built and not the men … the principle was greater than the men.” – Invisible Man, Epilogue
Like most classic works of American literature, Invisible Man explores the TENSION inherent in the notion of the American Dream as well as the COMPLEX RELATIONSHIP between the INDIVIDUAL and SOCIETY.
One of the protagonist’s key lessons to be learned is summed up by a street vendor in Ch. 13:
“Everything what looks good ain’t necessarily good.”
The protagonist has to learn not to put BLIND faith in people, organizations, or ideologies.
Ellison uses the structure of the picaresque novel in order to offer an ironic and satirical look at the hypocrisy and corruption in American society…
As such, he sends his naive hero plunging through almost every stratum of this divided society…
…from an ivy-covered college in the deep South to the streets of Harlem…
…from a sharecropper’s shack to the floor of a hellish paint factory…
… from a millionaire’s cocktail party to a Communist rally…
…from church jubilees to street riots.
“In his prose, Ellison managed to encompass the entirety of the American language—BLACK and WHITE, HIGH-BROW and LOW-DOWN, MUSICAL, RELIGIOUS, and JIVEY—and reshape it to his own ends. In Invisible Man he created one of those rare works that is a world unto itself, a book that illuminates our own in ways that are at once HILARIOUS and DEVASTATING.”
– Random House Publishers
Invisible Man can be classified in numerous ways:
It has appeared on the AP Exam more than any other text:
“But what did you need to immerse yourself in at least 1 (if not more) of its 10 major MOTIFS…I do to be so blue? Bear with me…”
- Ralph Ellison, Invisible Man, Prologue