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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
The novel memorably deals with many themes of great importance to African Americans, from poverty to racism to identity issues.
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.
There were many portions of the book that were difficult to follow due to the diction and style of writing that Ellison uses to develop his story.
I find myself asking "who am I to go against the grain and speak less than favorably about Ellison's INVISIBLE MAN"?. Read morePublished 2 hours ago by Reece
Had to purchase for a book club. Elegant writing. Not a super easy read. Worth reading.Published 1 day ago by A. Glick
Hated this little book. I understand Ralph Ellison is an important American author, but this book needs relegated to the 1950's. Read morePublished 6 days ago by Donna L Woerner
There were moments where I was done with the task of reading the book, but then something would happen, causing me to continue. Read morePublished 10 days ago by Terrance
The book is not at all as described, it's old and banged up with the back cover torn apart in two places...This is total disappointment.Published 17 days ago by Francis Tchikaya