Pragmatism In The Invisible Man

Words: 1152
Pages: 5

In American society of the early 1900s, many Blacks were still being mistreated by Whites under the separate but equal doctrine. They wanted to have the same opportunities, but the underlying racism rooted in the American culture often prevented any possibility of advancement in jobs or success in careers. The abundance of civil rights groups during this time depicts the inner conflict between the law and morality as well as constant changes in goals and identity. In Ralph Ellison’s The Invisible Man, the protagonist exemplifies inner conflict and constant fluctuation in future goals, morality, and personal opinions similar to Zbigniew’s character Mr. Cogito in his poems “On Mr. Cogito’s Two Legs” and “Mr. Cogito and the Pearl.” In “On …show more content…
Zbigniew introduces the principles of “per aspera ad astra” or “through hardships to the stars” and “amor fati” which means “being in love with one’s fate” (Zbigniew, p1). As a result of living by these maxims, Mr. Cogito endures everything, no matter how bad it gets because it may contribute to the larger picture. Likewise, the protagonist agrees to Mr. Bledsoe to go to New York to look for a summer job, and is not vengeful when he finds out that Mr. Bledsoe did not expect him to return or get a job at all. Instead, he takes a low paying job at Liberty Paints and accepts the hardship as a step to later success even though he “didn’t like it” (Ellison, 198). In addition, the protagonist goes to find Ras again under instruction of the Brotherhood, even though his group nearly killed him before. Even when the protagonist sees they are “carrying sticks and clubs” and “shotguns and rifles,” he does not back down (Ellison, 556). His actions exemplify the Latin idioms, blindly sacrificing himself for the good of the group under questionable leadership because the hardship would bring him success. Like Mr. Cogito, the protagonist seems to have masochistic tendencies and overlooks dangerous consequences in order to be a hero and to love and follow his fate. While the protagonist accepts and loves his unfortunate fate, he also becomes so involved in the Brotherhood that it drives out all other thought and conditions him to think only