Invisible Man - Characterization

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Invisible Man Essay - Characterization

Ralph Ellison's novel, The Invisible Man, depicts an epic of racial change and bitter race relations in America; yet, it was not meant to describe the struggle of black, white, or yellow people, but to illustrate how a man's experiences through human error shape his being and his reality. The narrator in this story, who remains unnamed, builds up to a conclusive invisibility through the knowledge that many different people he meets along his journey pass down to him. His character in the end and the reality in which he lives in had all built up with the help of the little invisible characters mentioned in the story. As the story moves along, the narrator encounters Emerson, a man mentioned as both an author and a businessman, Mary Rambo, a woman that leads the narrator out of a world filled with society's machinations whom he considers a motherly figure, and lastly Brother Hambro whose narrow mind and thoughts are unable to satisfy the narrator's thirst for a more conclusive explanation about society. Emerson, Mary, and Brockway all contribute in the narrator's identification of himself as an invisible man through Emerson's race, Mary's protection, and Brockway's forcefulness.

Emerson is first introduced to the story as a man named Ralph Waldo Emerson who was a writer and poet; a write literary figure in the black community whom the narrator was recommended to study and idolize though it would have had no impact on him whatsoever. It wasn't until one of the college's trustees, Mr. Norton, mentioned the name of Emerson did the narrator actually know about the man. According to Mr. Norton, Emerson was "important to [the narrator's] people. He had a hand in [the narrator's] destiny" (41). In actuality, Ralph Waldo Emerson was a white man who spoke out against slavery. By telling the narrator to idolize Emerson, he is subtly implying that a superior white man standing up for the black race should be more...
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