“The Invisible Music Of Ralph Ellison” Summary Reaction

778 words - 4 pages

In “The Invisible Music of Ralph Ellison”, Andrew Radford presents a compelling evidence, in the Raritan (Summer 2003(Vol. 23 Issue 1)), that in Invisible man, Ralph Ellison uses musical terms to argue that survival is dependent on the invention of your own person. As Ellison scholars we must also remember that Ellison was originally a jazz player, and went to school to become a musician. Radford enforces his point brilliantly with quotes from multiple books and interviews with Ellison to enforce that Jazz and musical references show that survival is dependent on the invention of your own person.
Radford starts his argument by pointing out how in the story the “skewed sense of time” (p. 40) ...view middle of the document...

As Ellison scholars we must remember that the music a person listens to says a lot about the person, so as the Invisible man is listening to his music it helps us see who he is trying to be, which helps Ellison describe this nameless person.
Then Radford fantastically brings up Louie Armstrong who comes up multiple times in the prologue and the significance of the song, being one of the first racial protest songs, even though Armstrong was said to have portrayed a minstrel in his movie and on stage. Radford then writes about when the invisible man has an epiphany on the subway about all of the people in the background of history and how they had some sort of impact on history but are not remembered. Radford parallels this to the ability of multiple jazz players to improvise in a group while not all of them are remembered. Finally Radford finishes off the paper by stating that “The protagonist discovers how survival is dependent upon the improvised performance of identity--based upon, though not exactly imitating, Rinehart's tactics. For Ellison the essence of improvisation lies in the energy released by the pure act of invention in process. And it is this potency that, in the epilogue, keeps Invisible Man watchful and alert,...

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