Self-Discovery In Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man

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The process of self-discovery is lengthy and very easily influenced. In the novel Invisible Man, by Ralph Ellison, a man begins his journey to self-discovery. Ellison was born on March 1, 1914 and died April 16, 1994 due to pancreatic cancer. He went to college to study music and he was enlisted as a merchant marine cook during World War II. The novel is written to be around the time period of the 1930s when racism is still very evident and takes place mainly in Harlem. The novel starts when the narrator (whom does not share his name) is given a scholarship to the local African American college; he is overwhelmed with excitement and is asked by the superintendent of his high school to give his graduation speech at a party. He agrees only to …show more content…
The effects of racism could be described as: “Racism and racial prejudice impede or prevent the object of racism to achieve his or her full potential as a human being” (Hampton et. all). One example of the narrator being belittled in the novel is when he is made to participate in the Battle Royal for a chance to read his speech. He is humiliated by the school superintendent and other white, wealthy men by being forced to fight other African American boys. They also electrocute the boys by making them beg for money so to speak, by placing metal on an electric rug and saying they can keep whatever they grab, knowing that they are not well-off and that they need the money. The objective of making the narrator participate is that they also want to make him question going to college by embarrassing him. Another thing done by the white men to mortify the narrator and for him to question his education and where he belongs is when the he gets expelled from college. They expelled him for almost no reason at all, they said he could “earn” his way back in by going to twelve people (picked by the college) to get them to write a letter of recommendation to the college. The narrator found out the hard way that he was sent on a wild goose chase, because the last person he went to, he found a letter from the college saying to tell the narrator that he would not write a letter, so he could not come back into the school. In …show more content…
Racism can also make the victim feel as if he or she is worthless and not part of the world because they are a different race, making them “invisible”. There was a lot of racism during this time period, making it hard for an African American child to grow up and develop character and create his or her own identity. The narrator in Invisible Man had a very hard time creating his own identity and discovering who he really is because of his race. He was not successful; he has failed in his journey to self-discovery and finding his identity. He never fully found out who he was, he never knew his potential, and he is not certain that he actually is human and a real person. As long as it has been since this time period, racism still exists today and there are people who are in the same shoes as the narrator, and they do not know who they are. Racism is a huge deal, most people do not realize the consequences of their actions when they make racist remarks or treat people of a different race differently than they would a person of their own race. The consequences of racism can lead to the feeling the narrator has had his whole life--

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