Existentialism In The Invisible Man By Ralph Ellison

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The Invisible Man and African American lifestyle. In 1952 Ralph Ellison wrote The Invisible Man, which is today considered one of the most compelling pieces of literature that portray African American society in the twentieth century. Ralph Ellison relates the story of an African American student from the south who then moves and works in New York. Being the narrator the protagonist of the story, he explains his experiences as an African American and describes his life as an “invisible man.” However, the concept of invisibility is used metaphorically to critique the white man’s perception of the African American society. While narrating the story of his life, the main character, who’s name is not mentioned in the story, reveals the social …show more content…
Ralph Ellison not only exposes the persistence of the white American society in ignoring the black community, but more importantly introduces his readers to important themes related to racial issues as the power of ideology, existentialism, the importance of individual …show more content…
The 1950’s were characterized by extreme racism, but also by the efforts for equality that accompanied the Civil Rights movement in America. Moreover, African Americans were often rejected and attacked by white Americans who made sure of the enforcement of racial segregation laws in the country. That being said, the first evident theme in The Invisible Man is the concept of individual identity. The protagonist identifies himself as invisible, however, he is not invisible by choice, but because society has decided not to notice him just for the fact that he is black “I am invisible, understand, simply because people refuse to see me… When they approach me they see only my surroundings, themselves or figments of their imagination, indeed, everything and anything except me.” (Ellis Prologue 1). Nevertheless, not only society sees him as invisible, but he also gives up on himself, letting stereotypes rather than actions to describe him, this is why even though at first he is a model African American citizen, who is smart and humble, he then beliefs that being the “ideal black man” is not worthy, and that he must give up his identity and surrender to the white man to have a better life. Even though the narrator encounters different groups that seek to preserve African American identity, or their version of it, as the “Brotherhood,” he realizes

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