Invisible Man Character Analysis

Topics: Invisible Man, White people, Ralph Ellison Pages: 3 (1012 words) Published: April 29, 2012
Invisible Man Essay 1 – We Wear the Mask

Quite simply, everyone in the world wears a mask, and, in most cases, they wear multiple ones, switching between them freely, depending on their surroundings. It's needed in our day and age, just to survive. People, as a whole, as a society, will rip you to shreds if you happen to show yourself fully and openly, with absolutely no regard for the standards set by society. They stifle creativity, they smother originality, they crush anything that doesn't look, in the vaguest bit, like them. And, as such, you must mask yourself, your TRUE self, that is, from society, from all those you deem unable to see exactly who you are without judgment. As this is true in our daily lives, it is also true in the literary world, one of the most profound examples of this truth being the very first chapter of Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man. In this chapter, the titular character finds that, because of his rather impressive speaking skills, (and because of the humbling content of his speech) he is invited to a gathering of the town's most prestigious white citizens. Upon arriving, he finds that it is some sort of primitive “battle royale,” in which the Invisible Man must fight other African-American teenagers, merely upon the urging of these men of power. After giving the teens boxing gloves, and suffering upon them to gaze upon a nude white woman, the white men literally blindfold the teens, ordering them then to beat one another to a bloody pulp. After then suffering another indignity in the form of fake, electrified money on a rug, the Invisible Man is then instructed to give is speech to the very men who just disgraced him so fully. The Invisible Man does, indeed, give the speech, but not before making a very large flub, in which the replaces the words “social responsibility” with the words “social equality,” much to the chagrin to the white population who remind him that he must “...know [his] place at all times.” However, despite this...
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