Invisible Man Tone Essay

Topics: Invisible Man, Ralph Ellison, Character Pages: 5 (2131 words) Published: February 18, 2008
Tone Essay

In the novel "Invisible Man" by Ralph Ellison, the author portrays distinguishable tones throughout the book with several literary devices. The main devices that Ellison most commonly utilizes are diction, imagery, details, language, and overall sentence structure or syntax. In the novel the main character or invisible man undergoes a series of dramatic events that affect the author's tone and the main character's overall outlook on his life and society. The author interweaves the devices mentioned to set a tone for the reader and purposely create a sense of feeling and emotion that the main character is experiencing at the time. The novel is introduced with a prologue where the author acquaints us with the "invisible man" and why he is knowledgeable about his invisibility. His use of diction is simple and informal and his sentence structure provides the reader with short sentences that imply factual information about him. To invisible man; light is truth, people do not accept him as an individual for any matter, and he longs for his individual freedom but finds that the coward within himself stands in the way. The author's imagery of the character's invisibility is apparent throughout the prologue. He presents the reader with an image of a man in existence but a rejection of the very own society that he belongs to. "The invisibility to which I refer occurs because of a particular disposition of the eyes of those whom I come in contact." (pg. 3) Ellison backs up his use of imagery with vivid detail. He talks of society's "inner eyes." These eyes to him are the eyes that replace the physical ones and alter the authentic look on reality. Invisible man's outlook on society causes him to become detached. Because of the character's detachment, the tone of the prologue takes on an eerie effect that is created by a man who lives in his own existence and invisibility. The tone of the character also comes off as dreamy, for this very man longs for a true existence in society and to be seen as an individual. Following the prologue invisible man's story begins. He is a youthful college student who has succeeded in working his way to his present standing by intellectual means. He is put through a living hell in front of wealthy, white men to achieve a place in college. He is forced to box, scramble for money, and perform his graduation speech while a crowd laughs amongst him. The author chooses his diction and choice of language carefully to set the tone in this beginning section of the book. He uses slang and what is known as common "southern language" to portray the amount of racism and hatred towards the African American race. The crowd of wealthy, land owning, educated, white men even provoke the colored men with the word "nigger." The invisible man does not think much of it and is mostly concentrated on what he is told to do. This creates the tone of the young adult that is naïve and dejected from his surroundings. While the author is attending college he is proper and obedient. His faith in himself causes his tone to come off as proud and conceited. His obedience is put to the test while told to drive Mr. Norton, a wealthy, white man, around the town. Mr. Norton's curiosity gets the better of him and the tone becomes chaotic, dramatic and ultimately suspenseful with his introduction to the southern society. The main character struggles to get the man, who his future relies on, back to the college and repeatedly fails. The words of Mr. Norton haunt his conscious and his tone becomes agitated. "So you see, young man, you are involved in my life quite intimately, even though you've never seen me before." (pg. 43) Invisible man's punishment leads to expulsion leaving the tone of a mix of confusion and infuriation. The detail of the principal's words, Dr. Bledsoe, to the main character adds to his infuriation. Even the one that the young man looked up to stereotypes his character by...
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