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Invisible Man

Invisible Man


Ralph Ellison


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Invisible Man Analysis

Literary Devices in Invisible Man

Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory

The narrator's first job is in a highly patriotic paint company most famous for its Optic White paint color. In order to create this pure white, the narrator is instructed to add ten black drops of...


The narrator is born and raised in the American South, only to wind up in the New York City neighborhood of Harlem, which is a major center of African-American culture. The narrator finds the contr...

Narrator Point of View

The invisible man is our narrator throughout the entire novel, sandwiching the bulk of his story with a prologue and epilogue from his manhole. Since we hear his story from his point of view, we ca...


Invisible Man is literary fiction because of its in-depth exploration of one man's psyche and its innovative style.


The narrator tells it like it is – or, at least, how he perceives it. And although his story could easily have degenerated into a sob story of racial injustice, anger, and hate, the narrator'...

Writing Style

A life-long lover of jazz, Ellison conceived of Invisible Man as jazz's literary equivalent. By turns sad, playful, shy, loud, fast-paced, drawing on different styles and traditions of writing, wea...

What's Up With the Title?

The invisible man is the narrator and protagonist of the story. We never learn his name, but this is his show – the novel chronicles his path to realizing his invisibility. This is not some w...

What's Up With the Epigraph?

"You are saved," cried Captain Delano, more and more astonished and pained; "you are saved: what has cast such a shadow upon you?" Herman Melville, Benito CerenoHarry: I tell you, it is not me you...

Plot Analysis

The narrator is a model young black man.…but we already know he doesn't stay a model young black man, because, as we learn in the Prologue the narrator is narrating from a hole in the ground....

Booker's Seven Basic Plots Analysis

Bad news with Mr. Norton and Dr. BledsoeThe narrator does his best to please the white and wealthy Mr. Norton, but screws up royally. Dr. Bledsoe, the college president, reprimands the narrator and...

Three Act Plot Analysis

_Coming soon!


Invisible Man won the National Book Award in 1953.Ralph Waldo Ellison was named after the famous American Transcendentalist philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson.Ralph Ellison's father died when Ralph wa...

Steaminess Rating

Invisible Man isn't heavy on the sex, but when it's there it's impossible to miss. After all, a naked "magnificent blonde" dancing in the middle of a sea of men isn't exactly subtle. Next up, we ha...


The Bible: "Render unto Caesar that which was Caesar's…" (5.22)Mark Twain: Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (9.160)James Joyce (16.133)W. B. Yeats (16.133)Sean O'Casey (16.133)Joseph Conrad: He...

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