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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.
One of the most beautiful collection of thoughts I've ever read. Especially relevant now, considering the sociology-political climate in the US. Read morePublished 21 days ago by Mado
Ralph Ellison is a wonderful writer. His prose is
beautiful and it flows effortlessly. He is a bit long winded.
He can go on and on and on. Read more
"You're nobody, son. You don't exist--can't you see that?" (p. 141). This is how the black president of the Negro college our unnamed protagonist is attending sets the young... Read morePublished 27 days ago by R. Russell Bittner
Depends if you have grown up or not in the US, is the magnitude of your understanding
This is a quirky book. Read more
THIS BOOK WAS A MAJOR BEST SELLER SEVERAL YEARS AGO AND I DID NOT GET TIME TO READ IT THEN, SO DECIDED IT WAS TIME TO CATCH UP WITH MY SERIOUS LITERARY BENT AND ORDERED THIS TO... Read morePublished 28 days ago by MERCY & ME
There is great material in this book, some fascinating passages. But tightening it up to about half its present length would make it a great book.Published 1 month ago by warren crain