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Invisible Man

Invisible Man

by Ralph Ellison

Lies and Deceit Theme

Invisible Man is about the process of overcoming deceptions and illusions to reach truth. (One of the most important truths in the book is that the narrator is invisible to those around him.) In Invisible Man, then, deception is closely linked with invisibility. Because various people cannot see the narrator for who he is, they use him to suit their own purposes. As often as he is deceived, however, the narrator does some deceiving of his own, ultimately concluding that the ease with which he deceives people points to his invisibility.

Questions About Lies and Deceit

  1. Why did Dr. Bledsoe deceive the narrator about the letters? Why did young Emerson decide to uncover the deception?
  2. Why does Dr. Bledsoe feel the need to deceive the white trustees and his students?
  3. Who does the narrator deceive in the novel? Intentionally or unintentionally? Does it matter which?
  4. What exactly is the relationship between deception and invisibility?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

In Invisible Man, everyone is invisible because everyone is deceiving one another as to their true identities.

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