Literature Review Essay Paper on Ralph Ellison: Invisible man

Ralph Ellison: Invisible man

           Disillusion and the need to address many social and intellectual issues facing African Americans in early years of the 20th Century inspired Ralph Ellison to write this book. The novel served as a channel to respond to the party’s betrayal like Black Nationalism, Marxism, reformist policies of race, individuality, and personal identity. He is quoted saying,”If they want to play ball with the bourgeoise, they need not think they can get away with it….maybe we cannot smash the atom but we can with a few well chosen, well written words, smash all that crummy filth to hell.” (Ellison 208)

            In this book, the writer is a protagonist who is a black American and feels that he is invisible not in the physical sense, but because people have refused to see him as a human being. He writes the book in the first person form. The fact that he is invisible makes him hide away from the rest of the world. He lives underground at the basement where he steals electricity from the Mono-polated Power and light Company.

       Being black, he suffers humiliation by being forced to fight a royal battle against fellow young black men with blindfolds wrapped over them by their white counterparts. (Ellison 224). After the fight, they are all made to scramble for fake gold coins wrapped in electric clothes as a blonde woman dances unworthily as they watch.

            Betrayal by white men was another issue of concern that comes out clearly when after the fight; the invisible man is given a scholarship in a briefcase. He later realized that inside it were letters written in quote, “Keep this Nigga boy running”. (Ellison 248). Another case of betrayal is when he is expelled from working at the college. He is given recommendation letters that he took along as he searched for a job. He later realized that they were saying of how unreliable he was as well as dishonorable.

            There was a time when the invisible man was taken to hospital and the white doctors took the opportunity to perform electric shock experiments on his body. After recovering and being discharged from hospital, he went to the apartments only to witness a black couple being evicted from an apartment in Harlem. The invisible man stood up and gave a speech to condemn the act before a crowd gathered outside the apartment. The speech earned him a spokesperson position in the political organization that spoke for the oppressed in the society.

            Later on, in a separate occasion, a black man is caught by white police selling his goods in the streets without a permit and he is killed mercilessly as people watch. Riots then ensure to protest against the killing and a building is torched where the invisible man takes part. Orders to kill are issued and the invisible man takes off. He meets policemen on the way and while chasing him, he falls in a pit where the police covered him in. The invisible man lives in thereto date.

            The story of the invisible man highlights how this young boy educated in college struggled to make it in a society that was divided racially. This society did not take him as human, hence his ultimate journey from ignorance to awareness. The society was against the segregation laws that prevented blacks from enjoying similar privileges as whites.

                                                        Works Cited

Ellison, Ralph. Invisible Man. Knopf Doubleday: USA, 2010. Print.