Invisible Man Essay

1047 words - 5 pages

Being in a state of emotional discomfort is almost like being insane. For the person in this discomfort they feel deranged and confused and for onlookers they look as if they have escaped a mental hospital. On The first page of chapter fifteen in the novel Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison, the main character is in a state of total discomfort and feels as if he is going mad. From the reader’s perspective it seems as if he is totally out of control of his body. This portrayal of the narrator is to express how torn he is between his two selves. He does not know how to tell Mary, the woman who saved him and has been like a mother to him, that he is leaving her for a new job, nor does he know if he wants to. His conflicting thoughts cause him to feel and seem a little mad. The author purposefully uses the narrator’s divergent feelings to make portray him as someone uncomfortable in is own skin. This tone is portrayed using intense diction, syntax, and extended metaphors.
The powerful diction used within the passage express the true internal struggle that the narrator is facing. The reader is able to pick up on the physical and emotional pain that the narrator is going through as a result of this struggle because of the author’s use of vivid adjectives. Words such as “nerve-jangling,” “violently,” “digging,” and “ringing” convey the intensity of the narrators emotional state. In context these adjectives may convince the reader that the this passage is about the narrator going insane. He is having major reactions to minor details such as ringing sounds and itchy skin. He is hearing nerve-jangling sounds, violently scratching himself, and digging his nails into his skin, causing himself to bleed. Many of the descriptions in the passage are those of sensory overload. The narrator’s sense of touch and hearing are out of control making him look like a maniac. The author also uses words of comfort in association with contrasting verbs such as, “bolting out of bed” or “pushing off the blanket.” Each of these physical actions express how he is emotionally forcing himself out of his comfort zone.
The author further expresses the pain and distress of the narrator by strategically incorporating the intense diction into the beautifully formulated sentences. The sentences in this passage range from very short to extremely long, consisting of many questions and exclamations. The varying length of the sentences along with the constant questions and exclamations create a chaotic atmosphere which suits the mental state of the character at this moment. In just two lines he asks four questions, “Why don’t they stop, I thought. And Why do I feel so let down? The bourbon? My nerves going bad” (Ellison 319)? Each question adds on to the pace of the passage. It is almost as if the reader feels that in order to keep up with his thoughts they need to read faster. Immediately after he rattles off all these questions, a new paragraph...

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