Ralph Ellison Invisible Man Analysis

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Invisible Man is a novel written by Ralph Ellison that reflects and criticises American society in the 1950s when the novel was written. The novel specifically analyses and castigates the idea of segregation towards African Americans and the lack of individuality due to the rigid structure of society. Ellison has cleverly made use of symbolism and metaphors throughout the novel to deliver his views on societal structure and its behaviour towards others within that society. He represents certain aspects in the novel with realistic features that were happening at the time in which the novel was written to further fortify his arguments.

Invisible Man serves as an informative warning of how racial discrimination was encouraged and acted upon
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Ellison criticises the way society stuck to conformity thus lacking any room for individuality and originality. The narrator, who aimed to be distinct and to be acknowledged got shut down and reverted back to the conformity of how society projects or expects him to act. The narrator’s short success came to an end when he received an anonymous letter telling him, ‘don’t forget if you get too big they will cut you down. You are from the South and you know that this is a white man’s world.’ (1: p 221). Throughout the novel, he had tried to prove his worth multiple times, only to be taken advantage of and made to conform to the norm of society mandating that black African Americans are inferior and should stay that way. The narrator wanted to be different and do what he thought was right, only to be discouraged because being different isn’t what people want him to be, ‘you’re nobody, son. You don’t exist- can’t you see that? The white folk tell everybody what to think,’ (1: p 143). The way society treated him and made him feel like an outcast caused him to feel as if he was really invisible, as they only see him how they want, which is just another black and inferior man, ‘I am an invisible man and it placed me in a hole—or showed me the hole I was in, if you will—and I reluctantly accepted the fact.’ (1: p

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