Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison – Book Report/Review Example
The paper "Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison" is an excellent example of a literature book review.
Blindness – “But now I felt a sudden fit of blind terror. I was unused to darkness.” (chap. 1 p. 21) The quote indicates the narrator’s fear of the unknown and the unfamiliar, within strange settings. This is the kind of struggle that the African-Americans had to live even with equal rights, of being blind of true freedom through the manipulation of society.
B. Masks – “The hair was yellow like that of a circus kewpie doll, heavily powdered and rouged, as though to form an abstract mask, the eyes hollow and smeared to a cool blue, the colour of a baboon’s butt”. (chap. 1 p. 19) The abstract mask mentioned by the narrator shows how the blond showgirl had to hide her true self by donning a mask in front of so many men. In relation to the story’s context, African-Americans had to wear a mask of constantly undermining themselves to remain at peace with the whites.
C. Dolls/puppets – “I looked out at the scene now from far back in my despair, seeing the platform and its actors through a reversed telescope; small doll-like figures moving through some meaningless ritual.” (chap.5 p.117) In the chapter’s context, the young brown girl observed by the narrator seemed like a puppet or a doll, only following the orders of the school and not enjoying the singing. This is similar to the way that the blacks were expected to behave, to simply follow orders without questions.
D. Electricity – “‘The machine will produce the results of a prefrontal lobotomy without the negative effects of the knife,’ the voice said.” (chap. 11 p.236) Electricity was used on the narrator in an experiment. While the electricity might seem brutal and unnecessary, it was this same current that woke the narrator up to the cruelties that befall his kin.
E. Music – “…to see the thin brown girl in white choir robe standing high against the organ pipes, herself become before our eyes a pipe of contained, controlled and sublimated anguish, a thin plain face transformed by music.” (chap.5 p.117) What made the people notice the brown girl was the music. If it was not for the music she would have been invisible to most, as were other people of her kind.
Chapter 13-24 and epilogue
A. Rabbit/bear – “Why, you could cause us the greatest humiliation simply by confronting us with something we liked.” (chap. 13 p.264) The narrator remembered his old self and linked it with a rabbit, and in this context, he remembered his old self by eating yams. This is like remembering his true identity and what he has to fight for, as his grandfather told him.
B. Encounters with women – “Her name was Sybil and she was one of those who assumed that my lectures on the woman question were based upon a more intimate knowledge than the merely political…” (chap. 24 p. 515) In this context, the narrator feels that he has not enough intimate knowledge about women, but because of his convincing speeches, women think otherwise. However, some of the listeners still think that what he fights for is not worth doing.
C. Birds – “…among the carts I saw a peanut vendor standing beneath a street lamp upon which pigeons were gathered… and suddenly he was covered, head, shoulders, and outflung arms, fluttering, feasting birds.” (chap.21 p.454) Pigeons are relatively tame and are known to represent peace. Also, they are seen as symbols of hope for the people.
D. Death/rebirth – “So after years of trying to adopt the opinions of others I finally rebelled. I am an invisible man.” (Epilogue, p.573) In the concept of death, the narrator buried his long-held beliefs of being a yes-man in the society, and reborn as one who fights for his beliefs. Despite having a lack of a concrete support group, choosing to be an invisible man who sees the truth is better than being a yes-man and being blind to the wrongs of the world.
E. Colours – “Other canvases were hung here and there, and the spacious walls seemed to flash alive with warm, pure colour.” (chap.19, p. 411) The narrator is easily evoked by colours that make a person feel alive. In the context of the story, colours are not boundaries that must be enforced but bridges to be built for people to experience life.
F. Shoes – “My feet felt light in the new summer shoes as I went back into the blazing heat, and I recalled the old boyhood pleasure of discarding winter shoes for sneakers and the neighbourhood footraces that always followed…” (chap.20 p.430) For the narrator, shoes worn at the appropriate times feel good, while during hot days feels constricting. This can be linked to actions or ideas that could create positive or negative results depending on how these are used or who are listening to or acting on these ideas.