Term Paper: Invisible Man - Ralph Ellison &amp Racism

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Invisible Man - Ralph Ellison & Racism

The first chapter of Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man is set in a segregated town, where the hero, a young unnamed black man, graduates with honors from the high school. At first, the impressive feat brings the unnamed narrator much honor. After being invited to a gathering of the town's white residents, however, the hero is lumped together with a group of black men who are subjected to malicious pranks. The taunts culminate in the battle royal, where the blindfolded black men are made to fight for the white men's entertainment.

The twin concepts of blindness and invisibility that will permeate this novel are introduced in this chapter.

First, his achievement as an honors graduate earns him much visibility, especially when he is invited to a town gathering to honor graduates. However, the narrator is lumped together with fellow black students who are then made to pummel one another in a cruel game. The drunken white men do not recognize the hero's achievement, they see him as just another participant in their ring game. The hero is made invisible by the white men's reaction to and dismissal of him.

The narrator only becomes visible, is noticed as an individual, when he mistakenly breaks social convention. In a speech wherein he was expected to laud "social responsibility" as the key to the advancement of black people, the hero utters the phrase "social equality" instead. Prior to this statement, the hero was considered just another black man. When he dares to argue for equality, however, the white men suddenly see him as an individual, a potentially dangerous one.

Perhaps one of the most affecting passages in Ellison's story comes after the ring battle, as the bloodied hero is finally allowed to make his speech. As soon as he mistakenly mentions "social equality,"… [END OF PREVIEW]

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Invisible Man - Ralph Ellison &amp Racism.  (2006, July 18).  Retrieved October 23, 2019, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/invisible-man-ralph-ellison-racism/99624

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"Invisible Man - Ralph Ellison &amp Racism."  Essaytown.com.  July 18, 2006.  Accessed October 23, 2019.