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The Invisible Race And Gender In Invisible Man

984 words - 4 pages

After getting injured at Liberty Paints plant, the narrator wakes up in the hospital with no memory and the inability to speak. This is a turning point in the novel. He has officially lost all of his connections with his past and now has the ability to reform himself. Then, he takes a room at Mary’s apartment. Yolanda Pierce stated that “Ellison presents Mary as a typical ‘Mammy’ figure, existing only to serve the needs of others” (Fisher & Silber 158). Despite his guilt that he can't pay for rent or food and Mary’s constant insistence for him to become a leader in the black society, he resists the urge to do so. Mary is a mother figure. She wants the best for the narrator and pushes him to ...view middle of the document...

But finally, like every other institution, it tries to impose its outlook on him. The Brotherhood pretends to a scientific grasp of history; it claims to know what Harlem needs better than Harlem itself. But this is ultimately exposed as another example of whites patronizing blacks-- and of inflexible organizations stifling spontaneity and individuality” (Dickstein 44).

Invisibility is another motif that is prevalent throughout Invisible Man. Ellison uses this motif to show how society treats African Americans as if they’re invisible, as if they do not have an identity. Invisibility often works with blindness in the novel. Because of one person’s blindness, another is often invisible. We, the audience, stumble upon this motif in not only the title of the novel, but also the very first sentence of the Prologue. “I am an invisible man” (Ellison 3). Shelly Jarenski says that “although Ellison’s narrator initially has invisibility imposed upon him, as he tells his story, he comes to embrace that invisibility and claim it as a site of power” (Jarenski 85). We see invisibility in a positive, powerful light when the narrator remarks, “I have been carrying on a fight with Monopolated Light & Power for some time now. I use their service and pay them nothing at all, and they don’t know it. Oh, they suspect the power is being drained off, but they don’t know where” (Ellison 5). Here, we are shown how he's using his invisibility to attack someone who is blind. They can’t see where the power is being drained off, so they can't stop it. Just like they can't stop the oppression of the blacks and women if they don’t know it is happening. The narrator’s realization allows him to take advantage of the system. He undermines the electric company, hoping he will no longer be invisible. Eventually, he realizes that doing things in secret...

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