Invisibility in "Invisible Man"
In order to analyze "Invisible Man" on any level one mush first come to terms with Ellison's definition of invisible. To Ellison "invisible" is not merely a faux representation to the senses; in actuality, it is the embodiment of not being. This simply means that for Ellison, his main character is not just out of sight, but he is completely unperceivable. The assertion that the Negro is relegated to some sub-section of society is nothing new; however, never before has an author so vividly depicted the colors that paint said Negro out of the public picture. The narrator of "Invisible Man" is a generic individual scorned by humanity; he is a place holder representing the Negro who so often is physically unseen, audibly ignored and socially overlooked. Irony dictates that one's understanding of the Invisible Man's substantive invisibility will be difficult to understand. Too easily can an individual confuse the under hemming of social obliviousness, with the almost mythical thought of actual invisibility. As hard a thought as it is to wrap the mind around Ellison does a good job of revealing how "a man of substance, of flesh and bone, fiber and liquids (3)" can be completely annulled from others senses. On the narrators first train ride, "a ride into the depths of human exchange (Arac 199)", the reader witnesses the books first definite insight on physical invisibility. "I could feel the rubbery softness of her flesh against the length of my body. I could neither turn sideways nor get away
when I took a furtive glance around no one was paying me the slightest bit of attention. Even she seemed to be lost in her own thoughts. (158)". However far stretched or far flung this assertion of physical invisibility may seem, surely one must suspend his mind for a moment and wonder; how it is that a man goes unnoted, even by one he is touching. Ellison begins this scene by establishing a threshold of excuse. Had he chosen to simply cast the...
Please join StudyMode to read the full document