by Ralph Ellison
Analysis: Narrator Point of View
Who is the narrator, can she or he read minds, and, more importantly, can we trust her or him?
First Person (Central Narrator)
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 can't be sure whether all the memories are entirely factual. Instead, we understand the story to be his perception; he is speaking out about his experiences and, as he says in the epilogue, hopefully shedding light on things we might not have realized, or perhaps helping us feel more connected with similar experiences. Even though the story is told with other readers in mind, this is very much our narrator's show – it's his personal development that we witness, and no one else's. This treatment of other characters actually mirrors the way he himself has been treated; aside from the narrator, everyone in Invisible Man is pretty one-dimensional. Instead of complex individuals, we have set types: a member of the black establishment, a wealthy white philanthropist, a black nationalist, a utopian visionary, and so on.