Invisible Man Ellison
How do you start aresearch paper on Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison? Our expert writers suggest you first begin by exploring the themes within the novel and the dissect the themes and focus on one specific one.
In his 1952 novel Invisible Man, Ellison considers a number of issues that were important to African-Americans at the time.
- Black power and nationalism
- Personal identity
- Racial politics
These themes all appear in the only novel Ralph Ellison had published during his lifetime. The novel, considered an existentialist work and a work of social protest, won critical acclaim for its insight into the issues African-Americans faced.
The narrator of Invisible Man tells his story in the first person, recounting being named high school valedictorian and then attending an all-black college. The fictional college resembles the Tuskegee Institute, founded by Booker T. Washington. The racial politics advocated by Washington are present throughout the book as the narrator struggles to understand what it means to be an African-American in an American town that seems not to see him as a person at all.
He finds himself limited not just by racism, but also by the simplistic ideologies he finds being expressed by others throughout the story. The college's Washington-inspired views may be too submissive, but the narrow and radical separatism he discovers on the fringes of the black community are just as limiting. Ultimately the narrator seems to reject all of these popular ideologies, including the Marxism he is exposed to that presents itself as being in the interest of the people yet works against their individual freedom to serve its collectivist ideal. In Invisible Man, Ellison gives voice to the struggles of the black community of his generation.