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As the book gets started, the narrator is expelled from his Southern Negro college for inadvertently showing a white trustee the reality of black life in the south, including an incestuous farmer and a rural whorehouse. The college director chastises him: "Why, the dumbest black bastard in the cotton patch knows that the only way to please a white man is to tell him a lie! What kind of an education are you getting around here?" Mystified, the narrator moves north to New York City, where the truth, at least as he perceives it, is dealt another blow when he learns that his former headmaster's recommendation letters are, in fact, letters of condemnation.
What ensues is a search for what truth actually is, which proves to be supremely elusive. The narrator becomes a spokesman for a mixed-race band of social activists called "The Brotherhood" and believes he is fighting for equality. Once again, he realizes he's been duped into believing what he thought was the truth, when in fact it is only another variation. Of the Brothers, he eventually discerns: "They were blind, bat blind, moving only by the echoed sounds of their voices. And because they were blind they would destroy themselves.... Here I thought they accepted me because they felt that color made no difference, when in reality it made no difference because they didn't see either color or men."
Invisible Man is certainly a book about race in America, and sadly enough, few of the problems it chronicles have disappeared even now. But Ellison's first novel transcends such a narrow definition. It's also a book about the human race stumbling down the path to identity, challenged and successful to varying degrees. None of us can ever be sure of the truth beyond ourselves, and possibly not even there. The world is a tricky place, and no one knows this better than the invisible man, who leaves us with these chilling, provocative words: "And it is this which frightens me: Who knows but that, on the lower frequencies, I speak for you?" --Melanie Rehak
Even more impressively, this was Ellison's first novel and could be considered one of the best, first novels even written by an American.
It was the kind of book you backtrack while reading, retracing chapters you just read to see if the initial impact of the words was really that forceful.
The author has a very unique style of writing in which he is able to clearly set the tone of his book through the usage of his diction, imagery and syntax.
Do not order. this is not "The Invisible Man" this is "Invisible Man" two VERY different booksPublished 18 hours ago by Austin Zambroni
A page turning book that allowed me a look into life as lived by American black in the first half of the 20th centuryPublished 4 days ago by John from Maine
When I was reading this book I thought of myself in a strange country and didn't know their culture and trying to fit in. It's not only a book about being black. Read morePublished 11 days ago by Birdlee
Novel: Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
I heard about this book for a while now so decided to read... Read more
I didn't like it all that much. I was expecting it to be something more about what it meant to be black in a white culture then. I did finish it, but was disappointed.Published 23 days ago by Rissa
Many coming of age books describe discrimination in some way, but this book goes further to speak to being treated disrespectfully more than just racially. Read morePublished 28 days ago by Joe L
I find myself asking "who am I to go against the grain and speak less than favorably about Ellison's INVISIBLE MAN"?. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Reece