Invisible Man

The Interplay of Black and White in Invisible Man 12th Grade

In his seminal work Invisible Man, Ralph Ellison depicts the dramatic and enlightening account of the life of the novel’s main character as he grows in understanding of himself and the reality of the world he inhabits. This unnamed narrator, a black man in a white man’s America, initially sets his sights on becoming the kind of successful, notable black man that pleases whites before becoming disillusioned with this concept and struggling to retain his own identity. Throughout his trials, the narrator is subjected to the suffocating and ever-present subjugation of his race, even as he seems to be in control of his own choices. Interestingly, Ellison chooses to illustrate this developing racial power dynamic with recurring descriptions of black and white objects that serve as representations of the two races and their relation to each other in the novel. With extensive black and white symbolism and imagery that ultimately portrays the cruelly inescapable domination of whites over blacks in this time period, Ellison paints a nuanced picture of the racial power dynamic characterizing the United States of the early 20th century.

Ellison initializes this connection between the literal colors of black and white and the actual races...

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