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Invisible Man

Invisible Man

by Ralph Ellison

Invisible Man Questions

Bring on the tough stuff - there’s not just one right answer.

  1. What's the effect of having two epigraphs? Are both necessary?
  2. Are there similarities in the way that the narrator is treated at the battle royal and in the way that Mr. Norton is treated in the Golden Day? What are the differences between the two situations?
  3. Why is the narrator such a threat to Dr. Bledsoe?
  4. What parts of the book are universal and can be accessed by everyone, what parts are grounded in the black experience, and/or what parts are particular only to the narrator?
  5. Invisible Man pushes for the eradication of ideology and for a political philosophy that embraces interpersonal relations. Why was this necessarily asserted in novel form? Did presenting these opinions in novel form render them more effective?
  6. What is "the principle"? How does the narrator's understanding of his grandfather's words change over time?
  7. Are all black people in the novel invisible? Or is everyone invisible, not just the narrator?
  8. What's all this business about social responsibility as the narrator's reason for leaving his hole? Is the ending optimistic or pessimistic?
  9. What do you make of the last line: "Who knows but that, on the lower frequencies, I speak for you?" Does he speak for you? Why on the lower frequencies?
  10. If the Epilogue had another Epilogue, what would it look like? After he leaves his hole, what do you think the narrator will do first? In other words, "what is the next phase"?

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