Essay on Ralph Ellison 's Invisible Man

1240 Words Oct 31st, 2016 5 Pages
The Narrator in Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man goes through an interesting and symbolic journey throughout his life. He first becomes a speaker for a social activism group, then witnesses a friend’s murder, and fights in a battle royale. One of his more normal actions is when he starts his new job as a labor worker at the Liberty Paints Factory. However, the factory and its products are also symbolic and teach the Narrator about a racist American society. The Liberty Paints factory and their products represent racial oppression of African Americans during this era, even in the more tolerating environment of the North. Ellison’s depiction of Liberty Paints and their process of mixing white and black substances in the creation of the Optic White Paint suggests that African Americans were outcasts in the early twentieth century American society that they helped create. Ellison uses Liberty Paints to portray that the early twentieth century American society was focused on white power. Liberty Paints stresses purity of color, with a slogan of “If it’s optic right, it 's the right white” that the Narrator finds humorously similar to the racist saying in the South: “If you’re white, you’re right” (217). This racist slogan is a fundamental ideal of both Liberty Paints and American society; it parallels how Liberty Paints prides themselves in their white paint, and America prides itself in its white culture. The significance of Liberty Paints to America is emphasized when it is…

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