Study Guide

Ras the Exhorter in Invisible Man

By Ralph Ellison

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Ras the Exhorter

Ras the Destroyer (née Exhorter) is a "mahn" (as he puts it) from the West Indies. He is a black nationalist and strongly opposed to Brotherhood activities. He also—despite being a controversial figure in the world of Invisible Man—has a sweet name.

Where the Brotherhood is for integration with white society and the uplifting of all those who are oppressed, Ras the Exhorter espouses a specific, black-centered worldview:

You my brother, mahn. Brothers are the same color; how the hell you call these white men brother? S***, mahn. That's s***! Brothers the same color. We sons of Mama Africa, you done forgot? You black, BLACK! You – Godahm, mahn! … Leave that s***, mahn. They sell you out. That s*** is old-fashioned. They enslave us – you forget that? (17.130)

He's all for black segregation and power; at the end of the novel, he incites a race riot. His presence in the novel delineates another point of view on the situation of blacks in America—namely, black separatism.

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