Analytical View of Ralph Ellison



The Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison by far was a great novel to show the impact that white America had on black America. Ralph Ellison explored the depths of racism and discrimination experienced by a black person from the1920’s through the 1940’s. Before the novel begins you notice the character as he is at the end of it all. For it seems the character gives up because he realizes he’s invisible in the eyes of others. Many of the ideas in the novel that were express give hint that the story is about the author..
Beginning with the prologue you notice that the opening sentence states
“I am an invisible man” (3; prol.1) which is referring the reader to the title. It becomes clear that the title refers to the narrator, and the narrator has no misinterpretations about his status. When he states “...there are few things in the world as dangerous as sleepwalkers (5; prol.). The sleepwalkers that the author refers to are society’s people who ignore blacks and make invisible man invisible. By waking them is to be noticed, and which he insinuates is to be punished.
Chapter One begins when he was a child standing at his grandfather’s deathbed. Only moments before he passes away, the grandfather tells Invisible Man’s father “after I’m gone I want you to keep up the good fight. I never told you, but our life is a war and I have been a traitor all my born days, a spy in the enemy’s country ever since I give up my gun back in the Reconstruction, Live with your head in the lion’s mouth. I want you to overcome’em with yeses,
undermine’em with grins, agree’em to death and destruction, let’em swoller you till they vomit or bust wide open...Learn it to the younguns” (16; ch. 1). These final words by Invisible Man’s grandfather bother Invisible Man throughout his life. As a young boy, he is told to forget the words and they are regarded by his family as insane, but the words continue to haunt him, and he is always searching for the meaning of those last words. The Invisible Man then skips to when he graduated from high school he is chosen to recite a speech for his class. He is highly praised for this speech and is asked to speak again to some of the important white citizens of the town. Unknowingly, before he is permitted to make this speech he must participate in a battle royal. After the battle royal he does his speech which he is being shouted and ignored while doing so. When he finishes the speech the superintendent of the schools says “take this prize and keep it well...some day it will be filled with important papers that will help shape the destiny of your people”(32; ch. 1). The prize he receives is a briefcase, the briefcase is important in the novel , because he will place numerous things inside it, and its contents become significant.
Invisible Man enters college which is a state college for the blacks. Invisible Man seems to feel while at the college the only reason he is there is to benefit the whites. This is evident when he has to chauffeur Mr. Norton a rich white man who claims that Invisible Man is his fate. Norton seems to feel that blacks are his fate but he doesn’t bother to even no the people that he associates with. During this era blacks were judged as a whole group and not as individuals, because of this blacks grew to resent whites. In chapter 5 the author talks about how the Reverend Homer A. Barbee is speaking on the founder of the college. He talks about how well things have progress in terms of the school and the black community. This is the first sign of rebellion in the author. When the Reverend Barbee is headed toward his seat it is ironic that his glasses fall off, showing that he’s being blinded metaphorically and physically. Barbee cannot see that the blacks are still oppressed and have not made the gains that he thinks they have. Such as the scene of the “eternally Kneeling slave “ (134; ch.5) this