Invisible Man

Vision in Invisibility 12th Grade

The dominant human sense is vision; an entire lobe of the brain, the occipital lobe, is dedicated to processing and interpreting visual information. Despite its importance, a loss of vision is not life-threatening due to the brain’s neuroplasticity, or ability to reorient itself and allow other senses to strengthen in the place of vision. The narrator in Ralph Ellison’s philosophical and satirical novel Invisible Man suffers from a lack of vision, but not only in the physical sense -- his vision is the clarity in which he recognizes his own identity. Reflective of the physical sense, the narrator survives without “vision,” or recognition of his identity, but at the cost of emotional pain and inner turmoil. Eventually the narrator regains his vision, and this journey through opacity, obscurity, and clarity composes the core of the novel. Author Ellison uses these different levels of visual clarity the narrator experiences to develop his theme that in order to overcome racism and prejudice and the problems they pose, one must realize and actualize, or “see,” his or her own identity.

In the beginning of the novel, the narrator is "blind." He naively believes he will succeed by doing what he is told and working toward a future...

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