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When they approach me they see only my surroundings, themselves or figments of their imagination, indeed, everything and anything except me. The unnamed protagonist becomes invisible, well he feels invisible, because the would cannot accept his opinions, desires and intellectual freedom: he must think, act and talk in a way he is told; thus, his personality vanishes as he becomes what he must. And this lack of self prevents him from finding any sense of belonging because wherever he goes he is not himself.

The narrator enters many different communities and societies, each of which impose an idea upon him about the way in which blacks should behave. Some argue for perpetuating the stereotypical uneducated negro, some suggest that the blacks should be violent and reclaim there lost African heritage and others suggest for science and rationality in dictating the future of lacks in America. In each instance the narrator finds himself detached and separate; he plays an inauthentic role in trying to adhere to ideas about himself that he does not feel are right.

So as he walks through the world lost and confused, dazed and downtrodden, he tries to find himself and fails miserably. The language Ellison tells the story through is remarkable and perceptive; he has a ridiculously keen ear for dialogue and speech patterns that allow the narrator to express himself in way that demonstrates his disillusionment with the world. He is not a happy man, and this is not a happy book. It bespeaks the blindness of society, ideology and those that profess to act in our best interests. View all 5 comments. What an incredible bonus to be able to follow in the footsteps of the young man struggling with racial and political identity questions.

The physical presence of New York life enhanced the reading, and the city added flavour and sound to the story. Hearing the noise, walking in the lights of the advertisements, seeing the faces from all corners of the world made the main character's confusion and freedom of identity choice evident. And being a stranger in New York myself, I turned into an invisible woman, taking in the atmosphere without being noticed. Following the successes and misfortunes of the narrator, this novel shapes the identity of the reader as well.

You can't escape the big questions built into the story. What is reality? What is scientifically true? How do we approach our given environment? Are words more powerful than actions or vice versa? Is there a logical chain of causes and effects between verbal instigation and violent action? Is there objective justice? How do we define it? The answers are not straight forward, but the narrator encourages the reader to try to embrace and understand the various changing shapes human beings take on over the course of their lives.

And my problem was that I always tried to go in everyone's way but my own. I have also been called one thing and then another while no one really wished to hear what I called myself. So after years of trying to adopt the opinions of others I finally rebelled. I am an invisible man.

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I won't return to New York for the time being. The novel, however, is more recommended than ever. View all 16 comments.

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Jun 18, Joe rated it it was amazing. Most capital-G Great books can be a grim trudge, like doing homework. Invisible Man is one of the few Great books that's also relentlessly, unapologetically entertaining, full of brawls, explosions, double-crosses, and the exuberant mad. As a meditation on race, it's as fresh as if it had been first published yesterday.


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View 2 comments. Dec 28, Megan Baxter rated it it was amazing. The writing is hypnotic in Invisible Man and the dread all-pervasive. Every time I sat down to read a bit more, I was sucked into the prose, even though it made me deeply uneasy and worried about what was going to happen next.

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It is stark, it is poetic, it is difficult, and it is rewarding. Note: The rest of this review has been withdrawn due to the recent changes in Goodreads policy and enforcement. You can read why I came to this decision here. In the meantime, you can read the entire review at The writing is hypnotic in Invisible Man and the dread all-pervasive. In the meantime, you can read the entire review at Smorgasbook View all 15 comments. Jan 25, Cheryl rated it it was amazing Shelves: mesmerizing , fiction , vintage , the-psyche , african-american , fav-authors.


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  6. Yet how can you not, when you've just watched someone you love go out for an early morning jog only to head back seconds later, with mounting nervousness, just to grab an ID? Artistic revelation, yes, this is how I would describe this novel. That makes me kin to Ford, Edison and Franklin.

    Ralph Ellison’s “Invisible Man” as a Parable of Our Time

    Call me, since I have a theory and a concept, a "thinker-tinker. Consider the metaphorical language Fitzgerald dazzles us with in The Great Gatsby; think about the clairvoyance of George Orwell in , how he produced scripted scenes that came to life years later; remember the racial debate in William Styron's Sophie's Choice, recall the language and riveting voice of Toni Morrison's main character in Home, and you will have considered this novel. How can we not discuss race relations when a young boy just bled to death on the streets of Ferguson, Missouri, his body left on the cold cement as a spectacle for hours, when even serial killers are fed elegant meals before they're executed in semi-private rooms?

    How can you not talk about the invisible man who was choked to death on the streets for selling loose cigarettes, even as he screamed, I can't breathe; or how about the invisible young man who was shot to death for strolling in his own neighborhood, wearing a hoodie? I could continue with the list that has been growing since the past year. Washington, Sun Yat-sen, Danny O'Connell, Abraham Lincoln and countless others are being asked to step once again upon the stage of history…Destruction lies ahead unless things are changed. And things must be changed. You don't talk about these things around peers-- it's a no-no, like speaking of religion or politics.

    Instead, when you must censor the confusing and nauseating moments you have once you consider how such tensions affect your life, you turn to books. I reached for this book off my shelf and Ellison's words placed within me a sense of understanding and calm like no other writer could at this moment this makes me take a moment of silence for non-readers. This book is devastatingly beautiful in its cold-hearted truth and individual perceptions.

    This narrator grows and develops from a young, black, college boy who has not been around his white counterparts, to a learned young man who slowly understands his invisibility and most importantly, understands how everyone--black and white--contributes to his invisibility. It is simply a story of self-discovery as seen from the perspective of a black character. Both tragic and enlightening, it is rife with imagery, unique cadence, "dialect," and rhythmic expose and a few choice words that could be off-putting for some.

    I'm glad I chose it and it chose me. Here beneath the deep indigo sky, here, alive with looping swifts and darting moths, here in the hereness of the night not yet lighted by the moon that looms blood-red behind the chapel like a fallen sun, its radiance shedding not upon the here-dusk of twittering bats, nor on the there-night of cricket and whippoorwill, but focused short-rayed upon our place of convergence; and we drifting forward with rigid motions, limbs stiff and voices now silent, as though on exhibit even in the dark, and the moon a white man's bloodshot eye.

    View all 48 comments. Apr 15, Diane rated it it was amazing Shelves: audiobooks , racism , classics. This is such an amazingfantasticincredible book. I definitely appreciated it more and admired Ellison's vision. This novel is the story of a black man in America.

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    We never learn our narrator's name and we don't know what he looks like, but he feels invisible becaus This is such an amazingfantasticincredible book. We never learn our narrator's name and we don't know what he looks like, but he feels invisible because of his color. When we meet our narrator, he is living alone in an underground room in a building near Harlem. He tells stories from his life, and we see all the times he was treated unfairly, misunderstood, wronged, stereotyped, and ill-used. A good example is a famous early scene known as the "Battle Royal.

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    The scene is horrifying and gut-wrenching for the way the white bystanders dehumanize the young men, laughing when they are brutally injured, and then rob them of their promised pay. In the stories, we see how our narrator tried to play by the rules and work hard, but he is constantly thwarted or manages to make a misstep, because so many of the rules are unwritten. Another memorable scene is when our narrator, who is a good public speaker, catches the notice of a group called the Brotherhood and is asked to help better the conditions for residents of Harlem.

    Like so many of his other experiences, our narrator is misused and misled, and he has to think fast to survive. By the end of the book which is also the beginning , we see how much faith he has lost in his situation ever improving.

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    Our young narrator had such high hopes and grand ambitions! Now he's abandoned in a forgotten room, with electric light his only companion. Truly, it's impossible to summarize the breadth of stories in this novel. There is so much meaning and symbolism in everything that happens to our narrator -- at one point, the poor man gets trapped in an underground coal bin and nearly starves to death -- that I can understand why this book is so widely assigned in literature courses.