Invisible Man

Food for Thought

How can a commonplace item such as food entail such profound meanings? How can the incorporation of symbols dealing with food into a novel discussing personal identity and invisibility be possible? Ralph Ellison's novel, Invisible Man, manages not only to integrate food symbols into the plot, but also infuses them with significant connotations. One evident symbol represents the narrator's acceptance of his southern heritage. Another type of food represents the poverty-stricken conditions of many of the African-Americans of the time. Beverages complement the significance of the food by portraying other people's views towards the blacks. In this novel, food symbolizes many things, including the narrator's acceptance of his heritage, the poverty of the black community, and the covert racism of the Brotherhood.The yams procured by the narrator symbolize his acceptance of his Southern heritage. For example, when the narrator bites into the yam, he is "overcome with such a surge of homesickness that [he] turned away to keep control" (264). Although the narrator has put on a faE7ade by acting as if he resents all things southern, this show of emotion proves otherwise. He has subconsciously neglected the more...

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