An Invisible Man Essay

1379 words - 6 pages

In the novel Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison, the protagonist fights to not be invisible in white society. Throughout the novel the narrator struggles to make change in society but as the story progresses he also evolves as a person. The protagonist discovers that while being born African American he had to deal with people trying to set an identity for him.
In chapter one the narrator expresses confusion towards his grandfather's final words. The narrators recalls that his grandfather called himself a "traitor and a spy", in the novel the narrator remembers these words and is constantly trying to identify their meaning. His grandfather also states, "I want you to overcome 'em with yeses, undermine 'em with grins, agree 'em to death and destruction..."(p.16) The narrator states, "It became a constant puzzle which lay unanswered in the back of my mind." (p.16) The narrator put his mind to becoming a leader and bringing change to the black community , he could never define himself as a traitor as his grandfather had called it. The narrators understanding of his grandfather's last words change throughout the novel. At the beginning the narrator did not understand why it was wrong to be the white man's favorite. When Invisible Man was being successful in white society his grandfather's words would come back and haunt him. At the closing of the novel the narrator finally understands that while not being true to his race and himself he had become a traitor. He also comes to the understanding that all those who appeared to want something from him were only looking for personal gain.
Throughout this journey the narrator encounters many people who seem to want him for his talent of giving speeches. Norton uses him for personal gain, while the narrator becomes successful in college, Norton uses the success to reflect on him. While the narrator and Mr.Norton are at the Golden Day one of the "crazy" veterans states, “Behold! a walking zombie! Already he's learned to repress not only his emotions but his humanity. He's invisible, a walking personification of the Negative, the most perfect achievement of your dreams, sir! The mechanical man!" This statement becomes ironical because the veteran was seen as mad but was actually pointing out the truth on how the college and Norton were using him. The narrator was being manipulated and being stripped of his own identity leaving him with the ideology of the college.
The college's manipulation towards Invisible Man was not the only manipulation he encountered on his journey. When he got a job at the paint factory he is also manipulated to make the whitest paint symbolizing that white is always better. Later when the narrator becomes part of the Brotherhood he is also manipulated by their ideologies. The narrator is deceived and believes he is helping his minority race become part of society. When the narrator sees Clifton’s Sambo dolls, which are being moved by transparent strings, he sees how he was also being...

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