Essay, Research Paper: Invisible Man

Literature: Lord of The Flies

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“Invisible Man” is about a black man and his struggles until he eventually
becomes ‘invisible’ to society 1. Youth-given a chance for an education 2.
New York- finding a job and joining the Brotherhood 3. Becoming invisible B.
Characters 1. Ellison a. never describes himself b. well educated, tries to
become white 2. Mr. Norten- rich man, says Ellison is his ‘destiny’ 3. Dr.
Bedlose- head of the University, kicks Ellsion out 4. The Brothers- Brother
Clifton C. Major issues in the book are the ways that Ellsion’s character
oppresses himself rather than other people doing to for him II. Novel is a
primary example of the hesitance of the blacks to feel confident in American
society A. Author wrote book to confuse me- had to read pages many times-
didn’t describe people or places, just things- didn’t read in to he nuances
B. Book will help me when we start to study the Black movement because it shows
where the begingings started C. Ellison’s Character “speaks” while being
invisible, pg 576-581 III. Had and impact on the way I look at my place in
society A. Think of it not like a “black novel” but as one big analogy B.
Every one is an ‘invisible man’ in one way In Invisible Man, Ralph
Ellison’s narrator recalls to us how he became ‘invisible’ to the world.
Since the name of the narrator is never known I wlll refer to him as Brother X.
The novel opens with Brother X describing what it is like to be invisible: “I
am an invisible man. No, I am not a spook like those who haunted Edger Allen
Poe...I am a man of substance, of flesh and bone, fiber and liquids00and I might
even go said to possess a mind. I am invisible, understand, simply because
people refuse to see me..That invisibility of which I refer to occurs because of
a peculiar disposition of the eyes of those with whom I come in contact. ...
those eyes with which they look through their physical eyes upon reality... In
the introduction, Brother X shares with us the advantages of his being
invisible; he also explains to us that he lives in a ‘pit’ that is damp and
dark, yet full of light. Living in this pit makes him realize that he is black
and blue. “I was born black, but what did I do to become blue? Bear with
me.” During the first couple chapters of the book, Brother X tells us about
his education. He attended a prestigious collage in the South and was a top
student. While at the University, he met a prominent white man named Mr. Nortan.
He was Mr. Nortan’s driver during his stay. Although we only hear about Mr.
Nortan for a few chapters, and he doesn’t show up again until the end of the
book, he plays a very important role. He said that he didn’t have a destiny,
that Brother X and others like him were is destiny. Brother X often refers to
being Mr. Nortan’s destiny for the rest of the book. After a violation of the
rules, Brother X is kicked out of school. Thinking he will be able to return
next term, he heads off to New York to find a job. He has with him references
from Dr. Bedlose, the dean who kicked him out. He was told not to open the
letters, but after not hearing back from any of the jobs, he opens one. The
letter explained to the potential employers that Brother X had been expelled
from the University and it would not be wise to employ him. After several blue
collar jobs, Brother X ends up giving and impromptu speech at an eviction and
catching the attention of several leaders in the Brotherhood movement. He is
employed by the Brotherhood and given a new ID, which we never learn. The
Brotherhood was an organization in Harlem that focused on unity through peace.
Brother X finds himself giving speeches all over Harlem and invading the
territory of Ras, the Exhorter’s group of black Nationalists. After a while
with the Brotherhood, the Youth leader, Brother Clifton disappears. The
Brotherhood movement starts to lose its force and they start to talk of shutting
down. One day, while Brother X is walking down the street, he spots Clifton
illegally selling dolls which were demeaning to blacks. Clifton refuses arrest
and ends up being shot. At Cliftons funeral, Brother X is asked to speak. When
Brother X crosses the line by insulting the law enforcement and trying to rally
the black community together, he is asked to leave the Brotherhood. A series of
events forces Brother X into his sunless “pit” where he finds the advantages
of being invisible. Invisible Man is by far the hardest book I have ever tried
to read. Every time I flip through it, I understand more, but become more
confused. This book is full of more nuances than 1984, The Giver, Fahrenhiet
451, Brave New World, and Lord of the Flies put together. There is no way I can
even try to pinpoint where the novel fits in to American society and history. On
the surface, the book talks about the general feelings of frustration and false
hope that the blacks faced trying to fit into society, but the book can be
adapted to any stage of history and social development. Everything in the book
has a deeper meaning that I can only begin to read into, the subtly of some
things and vivid description of others is hard to understand. I am in no place
to try and guess Ellison’s reason for writing Invisible Man. The novel was
very hard to read, yet it intrigued me from the first line of the book. The fact
that Brother X ‘speaks’ to us by being invisible is the idea that related to
me the most. I have to remind myself to step back and realize that we are all
‘just another brick in the wall’ and that when we try too hard to make
ourselves heard, we find out that sometimes the best way to be heard is when
people don’t think that they are listening. When I first started to read
Invisible Man, I thought it was going to be a ‘black novel’, like Black Like
Me, or I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. The novel became not a book about being
black, but being unseen . After I was finished with the book I realized I should
have read the Epilogue first. I will pick out some of the pieces that help
explain being ‘invisible’. “So there you have all of it that’s
important. Or at least you almost have it. I’m an invisible man and it placed
me in a hole--or showed me the hole I was in, it you will--and I reluctantly
accepted the fact. ...There is , by the way, and area in which a man’s
feelings are more rational that his mind,and it is precisely in the area that
his will is pulled in several directions at the same time. You might sneer at
this, buy I know now. I was pulled this way and that for as long as I can
remember. And my problem was that I always tried to go in everyone's way buy my
own. I have also been called one thing and then another while no one really
wished to hear what I have to call myself. So, after years of trying to adopt
the opinions of others, I finally rebelled. I am an invisible man. Thus I have
come a long way and returned and boomeranged a long way from the point in
society toward which Ioriginally aspired...You go along for years knowing
something is wrong, then suddenly you discover that you’re as transparent as
air. At first you tell yourself that it’s all a dirty joke, or that it’s due
to the “political situation” But deep down you come to suspect that you
yourself are to blame, and you stand marked and shivering before the millions of
eyes who look through you unseeingly. That is the real soul sickness....Being
invisible and without substance, a disembodied voice as it were, what else could
I do? What else buy try to tell you what was really happening when your eyes
were looking through? And it is this which frightens me: Who knows ,but that on
the lower frequencies, I speak for you?” I think that that last paragraph in
the book summed up the basis of the novel. Ellison tried to show us that in the
end, we will all come to realize that were are just as invisible as the next
man. But that is not a bad thing, because it is the invisible man that speaks
for us.

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