Theme Of Alienation In The Invisible Man

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Throughout history, humans have isolated one another based on what they consider defining characteristics; Americans frequently treated one another poorly due to race. Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man highlights the values of a culture or a society by using a character who is alienated from society because of his race. The narrator, or Invisible Man, feels as his name describes him, invisible, because he is African American and has been ignored, forgotten, disregarded, and overlooked throughout the novel. His white counterparts disregard his existence, worth, and humanity causing a sense of alienation to develop in the narrator. These isolating experiences the Invisible Man endures throughout his journey reveals the unjust morals of the novel’s …show more content…
After his graduation speech, Invisible Man is brought to a facility to redeliver the speech to the audience present. He receives the impression that he is gaining attention for his impressive speech and will be bringing awareness to his community. However, the hosts force him to take part in the Battle Royale where his fellow African American brothers are forced to be blindfolded by the white attendees and beat one another. Invisible Man says when he was, “Blindfolded, I could no longer control my motions” (Ellison 22). The symbolism of this situation demonstrates how white American’s are keeping African American’s ignorant or blind much like the blindfolds they wear. They continue to blind those who pose a threat to them to keep the power they have over their, usually, uneducated counterpart or to keep them uneducated. They treat the Invisible Man and other African Americans as though they are not human and disregard the humanity they display. Similarly, Thomas C. Foster’s How to Read Literature Like a Professor discusses the influence of blindness in a novel. Foster explains, “when literal blindness, sight, darkness, and light are introduced into a story, it is nearly always the case that figurative seeing and blindness are at work” (212). The literal blindness Foster describes is seen in the narrator experience in the Battle Royale can also signify his lack of self-awareness. While the figurative blindness …show more content…
Emmerson’s son informs the narrator that he has been expelled from college and once again alienated and disregarded of his dream. He procures a job at Liberty Paints where an abundance of color symbolism is located. Liberty Paints slogan, “Keep America pure with Liberty Paints” (Ellison 196), symbolizes white America’s disregard for the hard work and labor African Americans and other people of color supply America with. They continue to discredit and hide these important people in order to remain in power. Their product symbolizes the white power attempting to whitewash America. They produce a white paint through the mixing of “a milky brown substance” (Ellison 199), and ten drops of a black substance from a white graduate. that is mixed and applied by people of color. However, the privilege white’s in power take all the credit for the creation and pretend that the work is done all by their own force. They seclude all of the African American’s and other people of color working for the company as they are used for labor and nothing else. Throughout the novel the narrator faces this injustice and ends up secluding himself from society where he begins the novel. The Invisible Man completely isolates himself and steals electricity from the owners of the buildings much like the white’s in the story used to steal from him without ever crediting his hard work. However, society never truly includes the Invisible

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