Prejudice And Racism Exposed In Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man

Words: 1299
Pages: 6

The early 1900s were filled with racism and discrimination that stripped many people of their personal identities. In his work of fiction, Invisible Man, Ralph Ellison addresses how societal expectations attributed to the racial issues at this time beyond textbook definitions through the telling of a single man’s journey to rediscover his lost individuality.
Initially the loss of identity due to racism is unidentifiable by its victims, which was a major danger to the people. The invisible man has lost his identity, beginning to tell the story of how he came to discover who he is and what it means. The invisible man realizing “That I am nobody but myself. But first I had to discover that I am an invisible man!” the meaning of the work
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The fact that the “invisible man” is unaware of the racial hierarchy prevents him from acting upon others’ expectations because “he fails to understand the simple facts of life” (Ellison 74). Here the invisible man has spoken with “disrespect.” No one expects a black man to speak up to a white man because of the racism that exists; it’s almost a taboo in the south. The unwritten rules of the racial hierarchy isolate the narrator. “To whom could I turn for help? I could think of no one” (Ellison 83) as he realizes that he’s on his own here, but doesn't know yet how to cope. It’s normal to be confused when there is no one to guide you. The narrator knows that racism exists, but recognizing it as the cause for his loss of identity takes much longer. The narrator soon understands that the “Fact is, he was hating you all the time.” (Ellison 147) as he refers to others. Here he begins to scratch the surface of how racism affects his individual self. By putting the invisible man in certain space it become impossible for him to create his own “norms in a context where extreme visibility makes the creation of these norms impossible” (Puskar 5) He also realizes that it’s been ongoing, but has yet to understand the true effect and begins to recognize the truth behind being