Examples Of Existentialism In Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man

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Existentialism and Invisible Man
Ralph Waldo Ellison is an American writer. He was born March 1, 1914, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma and died April 16, 1994, New York, New York. He studied music for three years at Tuskegee University and left in 1936 to move to New York. While in New York he befriended Richard Wright and was influenced to start writing. In 1952 Ellison published Invisible Man, which was the only book published during his life time. The idea that Ellison seems to stress in the novel is existentialism. Existentialism is the philosophical idea that a person discovers himself or herself and the meaning of life through choices, one’s free will, and one’s actions. It is based off other concepts such as: responsibility and discipline
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For example the grandfather’s curse (Ellison 33). The narrator’s grandfather tells him to read aloud a letter that read: “keep this nigger-boy running.” This quote influences the narrator by playing on his conscientious throughout the novel. His curse does not just affect him indirectly but directly as well because every negative consequence he faces sends him running again. Another example of existentialism through dialogue is his questioning. He ask “What and how much had I lost by trying to do only what was expected of me…” (Ellison 266). This is the first step into the journey of self-discovery that is short lived after he bites into a bad piece of yam and is brought back to reality. The short lived epiphany serves to influence the narrator to do better for himself. The next example of existentialism through dialogue is Clifton’s Sambo doll sales pitch (Ellison 431-433). Despite the narrator’s earlier realization he is again acting like the sambo doll itself. He is being manipulated like a puppet by the brotherhood and all the people that have done him wrong. In Ralph Waldo Ellison novel Invisible Man, published in 1952, he explores existentialist ideas through blues, action, and dialogue. Existentialism is a form of humanistic way of thinking in which a person discovers his or her character and the meaning of life through certain ideals. Within

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