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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.

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The first thing you need to know i love this book

Invisible Man!

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.


The second thing you need to know this is a different book

H.G. Wells’ 1897 science fiction novella about an actual invisible man

The second thing you need to know: This is a different book.


Ralph ellison 1914 1994
Ralph Ellison: 1914-1994

Our book was written by this guy…


“I am invisible, understand, simply because people refuse to see me.”

The reason that Ellison’s protagonist is invisible…


Ralph ellison a few facts
Ralph Ellison: A Few Facts to see me.”

  • Full name: Ralph Waldo Ellison (named after Transcendentalist Ralph Waldo Emerson)

  • Raised in Oklahoma City, OK

  • 1933: Entered Tuskegee Institute on a music scholarship

  • Moved to New York City after his junior year in college to study visual arts, but ended up writing

  • Cites T. S. Eliot’s The Waste Land as an important influence on his literary career

  • 1947-1951: Wrote Invisible Man

  • 1952: Invisible Man published (only novel of Ellison’s published during his lifetime)

  • Ellison was also a professor at Bard College, Rutgers University, and Yale University


Invisible man the great american novel
Invisible Man: to see me.”The Great American Novel?

“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


The paradoxical american dream
The Paradoxical American Dream was built and not the men … the principle was greater than the men

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.


Invisible man as picaresque novel
Invisible Man summed up by a street vendor in Ch. 13:asPicaresque Novel

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…


Invisible man as picaresque novel1
Invisible Man summed up by a street vendor in Ch. 13:asPicaresque Novel

As such, he sends his naive hero plunging through almost every stratum of this divided society…


Invisible man as picaresque novel2
Invisible Man summed up by a street vendor in Ch. 13:asPicaresque Novel

…from an ivy-covered college in the deep South to the streets of Harlem…


Invisible man as picaresque novel3
Invisible Man summed up by a street vendor in Ch. 13:asPicaresque Novel

…from a sharecropper’s shack to the floor of a hellish paint factory…


Invisible man as picaresque novel4
Invisible Man summed up by a street vendor in Ch. 13:asPicaresque Novel

… from a millionaire’s cocktail party to a Communist rally…


Invisible man as picaresque novel5
Invisible Man summed up by a street vendor in Ch. 13:asPicaresque Novel

…from church jubilees to street riots.


Diverse america diverse diction
Diverse America = Diverse Diction summed up by a street vendor in Ch. 13:

“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


Multi genre novel
Multi-Genre Novel summed up by a street vendor in Ch. 13:

Invisible Man can be classified in numerous ways:

  • PICARESQUE NOVEL

  • GOTHIC NOVEL

  • QUEST NOVEL

  • BILDUNGSROMAN

  • KUNTSLERROMAN

  • PROPAGANDA NOVEL

  • FRAME NARRATIVE

  • EPIC NOVEL (THINK OF IT AS AN AMERICAN ODYSSEY)

  • AFRICAN-AMERICAN MIGRATION NARRATIVE (SLAVE NARRATIVE/ASCENSION NARRATIVE/IMMERSION NARRATIVE)


And let s not forget
And let’s not forget… summed up by a street vendor in Ch. 13:

It has appeared on the AP Exam more than any other text:

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To prepare yourself to write knowledgably about this text, you need to immerse yourself in at least 1 (if not more) of its 10 major MOTIFS…


Dreams
DREAMS you need to immerse yourself in at least 1 (if not more) of its 10 major MOTIFS…


SEX you need to immerse yourself in at least 1 (if not more) of its 10 major MOTIFS…


Violence
VIOLENCE you need to immerse yourself in at least 1 (if not more) of its 10 major MOTIFS…


Paper
PAPER you need to immerse yourself in at least 1 (if not more) of its 10 major MOTIFS…


Vision
VISION you need to immerse yourself in at least 1 (if not more) of its 10 major MOTIFS…


Objects as in symbolic
OBJECTS you need to immerse yourself in at least 1 (if not more) of its 10 major MOTIFS…(AS IN SYMBOLIC)


Oratory
ORATORY you need to immerse yourself in at least 1 (if not more) of its 10 major MOTIFS…


Family
FAMILY you need to immerse yourself in at least 1 (if not more) of its 10 major MOTIFS…


Power
POWER you need to immerse yourself in at least 1 (if not more) of its 10 major MOTIFS…


And last but certainly not least
and last you need to immerse yourself in at least 1 (if not more) of its 10 major MOTIFS…but certainly not least…


Music
MUSIC you need to immerse yourself in at least 1 (if not more) of its 10 major MOTIFS…


“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


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