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Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison (Essay Sample)


Comparing and contrasting aspects from the story to the authors life. Showing three major similarities that are fictionalized in the novel that parallel his life.

Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
With this book, Ellison managed to establish himself among other significant American novelists of his era. In fact, the position he gained in literature through this work not only maintained but also enhanced in the successive decades. Via an increasing series of brilliantly rendered plus powerfully crafted events, many of them swerving wildly from illogical humor to horror plus violence in their blend of realistic descriptions, the book shows its repeated attempts to define the character. He reels from a community system to another, but ends up being disillusioned at every turn (Boyagoda 94). Nevertheless, Ellison’s work was written in the socially plus politically turbulent 1940 and remains one of the classic writings about the African-American experience. Indeed, this was the time during Civil Rights movement.
The author powerfully tried to address the issues that confronted him and everyone else including racism plus the very subject of personal identity (Ellison 61). He also includes our frustrated desire to establish ourselves in a planet which is figuratively blind. His hero in this work is invisible with the mainstream culture as he is black, though his feelings can effortlessly be comprehended by those who go through the anonymity of modern era. It is the purpose of this paper to compare and contrast aspects from the tale to the life of the author. Most importantly, a critical discussion is provided on similarities that are fictionalized in the narrative that parallel the author’s life.
The novels’ narrator or the invisible man is symbolic of many brilliant young African-Americans of his era. With the assumption that many are blind and cannot appreciate him for his values and achievements in life, the storyteller decides to use the title “invisible man.” Having been born and brought up in the South, the invisible man is portrayed as a star scholar at a college for black students. In fact, he hopes for racial uplift via humility plus had work; a common doctrine preached in institutions in addition to the wider Southern culture. As a matter of fact, his aspiration to get away from the limits of race makes him to be renaissance gentleman. It is important noting that such conception serves as a grounding force in his entire life. Reflecting on the readings, it is understandable that the protagonist communicates the transition from raw southern youth to disillusioned northern liberationist (Allen 23). This included a personal voyage from sightlessness to revelation plus the pilgrimage from blameless persons to established destiny-driven determinism. His sense of self to dream remains strong, despite the challenges experienced in the Southwest.
The narrator’s collision with a world that did not want to recognize his existence plus the incumbent bruises and blackouts lead him to harbors of isolation. One can deduce that isolation changes his way of thinking, thus making him observe blindness in other people. After his innocent idealism gets him in mess, he understands the double standards behind the institution’s acclaimed philosophy (Ellison 94). In contrast, we know that the author benefitted from public’s welfare. In essence, Ellison never experienced the world in such a crude manner the protagonist did. Perhaps, he was lucky to come from a rather well-to-do family because his dad was an accomplished person having served overseas in the military. In addition, his mother was engaged in politics and possibly she was enlightened.
Indeed, after the author’s father died, his mum supported him and his brother through working in domestic jobs. It is worth contemplating that the aforesaid factors reveal that the author’s life variably contrasted with that of the protagonist. Moreover, different examples in the account show how such factors play a critical role in defining how the author’s life contrasted in the life of the central character. However, in terms of comparison, Ellison had to travel later to New York following some confusion over his status of scholarship. Most likely, as portrayed by Ellison, the journey that the invisible man travelled tried to reflect his movement from Tuskegee Institute (Alabama) to New York City (Allen 25).
Indeed, Alabama appeared to be an oppressive place apart from the openness of the territory of his birth. Seasoned in the cultural integration of his birthplace, Ellison lived in blended unity plus understanding with other races including Native Americans, blacks, whites and Jews (Ellison 146). On the whole, his travel from Alabama reflects the narrator’s voyage in the book. Although the author of the book insisted that his work was not biographical in any sense, there appear many contrasting themes plus many similarities between him and his protagonist. Such contrasting themes, which are clearly defined throughout the readings help readers to understand the intended purpose of the narrative at large. The author was born in 1913. This was the era during which Europe was venturing its ravaging First World War.
On the other hand, America was attaining momentum as a considerable intellectual and economic source of prominence and power but scarred by its bitter history of slavery including the ill-fated programme of Reconstruction (O’Meally 67). In reality, Ellison’s grandparents were slaves who managed to slough off the binds of bondage for the wish of sharecropping. They also fed their siblings with the seasoned promises of freedom plus self-determined destinies. In the same way, the author’s parents decided that their siblings would escape the deficiency that characterized their lives. Nevertheless, Ellison’s time in the all-black institute can be compared to narrator’s challenges in his personal voyage from sightlessness to revelation plus the pilgrimage from blameless persons to established destiny-driven determinism. Without a doubt, such comparison is wide ranging and comprises various events taking place between the two identities.
In particular, Ellison’s determination to be accepted is palpable in the book. We know that although race was not spoken in the institute, Ellison noted that money screamed it. In fact, he was perplexed at the class consciousness that separated those who were financially secure from the deprived at the Institute. In real life, Ellison’s disgust for his status financially is also reflected in a 1964 interview where he recalled his young years. He imagined a world in which he wore clothes only on Sunday; perhaps because he did not have many clothes to wear (Boyagoda 96). In addition, he recalled taking a walk with his family through the wealthy –white- parts of the city. The abovementioned, and many more events define and explore his past in a manner that is comparable to the life of the narrator.
Similarly, the narrator in the book had a distaste for his financial position and envied the rich. In other words, it is evident that the narrator is an intelligent young man struggling to make ends meet. With the intention to accomplish the purpose of writing the novel, the author has someway achieved his goals. In that sense, he enumerates and defines the reasons why many are leading a blind life. What is more, the narrator insinuates his hatred for white-controlled lifestyle by using his grandfather who was in his deathbed (Ellison 209). Possibly, this resulted out of narrator’s being forced to strip naked plus fight other young black men in front of white leaders. Altogether, the similarity in author’s life and the narrator in the book are evident. Again, a major similarity that is fictionalized involves the narrator introduction to the readers and Ellison’s life. The narrator brings himself out right off the slug as the invisible man. In fact, the narrator lives off the unbending, in a warm place in the land where he is hiding away in eagerness of future direct action. Though, before all the direct/visible action occurs, he needs to entail his road to realizing his invisibility.
In essence, the narrator offers a temporal situation when we learn that his grandparents were ex- slaves freed following the Civil War (Allen 26). Building on a literal point of view, it is true that the narrator uses several examples in order to shed light on his past as well as that of his family members. To some extent, this forms a point of reference from readers are able to compare and contrast phases from the account to the life of the author in that order. As mentioned earlier, the narrator’s grandfather castigated a white-controlled system. Parallel to the author’s life, on the paternal and maternal side of his family, grandparents were enslaved. It is possible that Ellison sought to relate his past to what he wrote in his book. He felt that the past had done him some injustices, and thus the suffering as depicted through his protagonist in the book. Furthermore, the scourge of monetary insecurity would change Ellison’s life again after his hopes of an upwardly mobile education were cut short when his scholarship was withdrawn. However, this happened before an English instructor inspired him to take literature as an expressive art form plus introduced him to the suffering tragic heroes including Dostoevsky; figures that Ellison would employ in his work.
Also, his time at Tuskegee fashioned the southern institute of the Invisible man populated with the Mr. Norton’s plus Dr Bledsoe’s of his experiences whose pretence inflame his chief character. Their shrouded sightlessness occupied his mind with injured spittle similar to the one which warned to overwhelm the young protagonist after he was forced to fight his schoolmates blindfolded. However, like his protagonist, Ellison jou...
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