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First Published InAnd Immediately Hailed As A Masterpiece, Invisible Man Is One Of Those Rare Novels That Have Changed The Shape Of American Literature For Not Only Does Ralph Ellison S Nightmare Journey Across The Racial Divide Tell Unparalleled Truths About The Nature Of Bigotry And Its Effects On The Minds Of Both Victims And Perpetrators, It Gives Us An Entirely New Model Of What A Novel Can BeAs He Journeys From The Deep South To The Streets And Basements Of Harlem, From A Horrifying Battle Royal Where Black Men Are Reduced To Fighting Animals, To A Communist Rally Where They Are Elevated To The Status Of Trophies, Ralph Ellison S Nameless Protagonist Ushers Readers Into A Parallel Universe That Throws Our Own Into Harsh And Even Hilarious Relief Suspenseful And Sardonic, Narrated In A Voice That Takes In The Symphonic Range Of The American Language, Black And White, Invisible Man Is One Of The Most Audacious And Dazzling Novels Of Our Century I have been seeing this on friends feeds lately I read this for a college seminar African American History of the 1930s and 1940s It was quite an interesting class as the demographics were literally half African American and half Caucasian, thus spurring provocative discussions Our professor had us read Ellison s masterpiece and even though I do not remember it in its entirety, I remember the protagonist meeting Booker T Washington, George Washington Carver, discussing the talented tenth and black universities, the back to Africa movement, etc All in all, Invisible Man stands out as one of the top three books I read in college and I will have to reread it when I have the time. Full disclosure I wrote my master s thesis on Ellison s novel because I thought the first time that I read it that it is one of the most significant pieces of literature from the 20th century Now that I teach it in my AP English class, I ve reread it many times, and I mconvinced than ever that if you are only going to read one book in your life, it should be this one The unnamed protagonist re enacts the diaspora of African Americans from the South to the North and the surreal experience of racism, rage, and manipulation rarely expressed with such force and eloquence Ellison follows tried and true patterns from dramatic ritual to spell out his invisible man s journey from cocksure teenager to furious refugee hiding out in a basement in Harlem The last lines of the book are haunting and almost hopeful through the despair. I am a man of substance, of flesh and bone, fibre and liquids and I might even be said to possess a mind I am invisible because people refuse to see me When they approach me they see only my surroundings, themselves, or figments of their imagination indeed, everything and anything except me When I first read the book last year, the above quote really stood out to me It seemed very Dostevskyan It has taken a second reading for me to truly process the content of this book, and still I can t exactly say I understand all the symbolism I really enjoy coming of age books and this one is no exception The book starts off with the narrator attending a college in the American South Due to some events I won t get into he moves to Harlem to look for work We see the maturing process of the narrator as he goes from being an innocent boy to one who begins to question his identity but can t seem to reconcile it with his role as a black man in racist 1950s America And like any coming of age story, there is a lot of interior and external conflict.It s hard to really summarize this book because so much goes on Of course the main issue is about race and how it was for a person of colour living in a racist society at the time The book also gets political when it outlines different possible approaches for racial integration, oneradical than the other All in all a great book, a book which I will probably have to read again or discuss it with someone to understand it better. Invisible Man is an extremely well written and intelligent novel full of passion, fire and energy it s such a force to be reckoned with in the literary world, and not one to be taken lightlyI am invisible, understand, simply because people refuse to see me Like the bodiless heads you see sometimes in circus sideshows, it is as though I have been surrounded by mirrors of hard, distorting glass When they approach me they see only my surroundings, themselves or figments of their imagination, indeed, everything and anything except me The biggest question the novel raises evolves around identity or lack thereof in a world that demands we conform and meet the expectations of others The unnamed protagonist becomes invisible, well he feels invisible, because the would cannot accept his opinions, desires and intellectual freedom he must think, act and talk in a way he is told thus, his personality vanishes as he becomes what he must He cannot form his own identity because every time he creates a sense of individualism he is knocked back because his expression of self does no adhere to someone s wishes And this lack of self prevents him from finding any sense of belonging because wherever he goes he is not himself And this isn t just about blackness in the face of a white society This isn t just about the postcolonial state of slavery and hybrid identity in the face of a supposed freedom from the shackles that bound the blacks to their masters this is about American society at large it s about the world at largeWhen I discover who I am, I ll be free And that s what makes the novel so powerfully emotive and raw The narrator enters many different communities and societies, each of which impose an idea upon him about the way in which blacks should behave Some argue for perpetuating the stereotypical uneducated negro, some suggest that the blacks should be violent and reclaim there lost African heritage and others suggest for science and rationality in dictating the future of lacks in America In each instance the narrator finds himself detached and separate he plays an inauthentic role in trying to adhere to ideas about himself that he does not feel are right So as he walks through the world lost and confused, dazed and downtrodden, he tries to find himself and fails miserably The language Ellison tells the story through is remarkable and perceptive he has a ridiculously keen ear for dialogue and speech patterns that allow the narrator to express himself in way that demonstrates his disillusionment with the world He is not a happy man, and this is not a happy book It bespeaks the blindness of society, ideology and those that profess to act in our best interestsLife is to be lived, not controlled and humanity is won by continuing to play in face of certain defeat As I write these words, I m about to begin my second read of this spectacular novel There s just so much in here that one read is simply not enough.