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Invisible Man

Invisible Man


Ralph Ellison

 Table of Contents

Invisible Man Themes

Invisible Man Themes


Identity in Invisible Man is a conflict between self-perception and the projection of others, as seen through one man's story: the nameless narrator. His true identity, he realizes, is in fact invi...


While most the narrator's difficulties throughout the novel are associated with his race, Invisible Man is a novel aimed at transcending race and all the other ways humanity has used to categorize...

Lies and Deceit

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 In...


Invisible Man promotes a political philosophy of appealing to the emotional individual. It rejects all forms of ideology, arguing that ideology misses the trees for the forest, so to speak (in othe...

Memory and the Past

Most of Invisible Man takes place in the narrator's memory, which inherently brings up issues of how well memory works – in other words, the nameless narrator character is choosing specific s...


Power infuses nearly all of the relationships depicted in Invisible Man. More specifically, white male power threads its way throughout the novel. Even in situations where there are no white males...


Admiration is particularly salient towards the beginning of Invisible Man, when the narrator takes Dr. Bledsoe and Mr. Norton to be role models. By the end of the novel, the narrator does not admir...


In Invisible Man, admiration tends to fuel ambition. As the narrator admires Dr. Bledsoe, so his ambition is to one day serve as Bledsoe's assistant. The course of ambition throughout the novel als...


Love is notable in Invisible Man because of its absence throughout most of the novel. The narrator rejects it because it would interfere with his ambitions. At the end of the novel, however, the na...

Women and Femininity

In Invisible Man, the situation of white women is drawn parallel to that of black men – both are oppressed by white male society. None of the women we encounter in the book understand their s...

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