Ralph Ellison S Invisible Man Term Paper

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Everyday, racism is perceived as a negative aspect of society. When people think of racism, they obviously see hatred, evil, and ignorance. It has been a part of world culture since recorded history and, no doubt, before that. When one thinks of racism in the United States, invariably, though not only, the struggle of the African American is singled out. American literature has long been noted for its outspokenness of controversial issues faced by its people. American authors are challenged with the task of bringing to the fore the face of these issues. One such author is Ralph Ellison, and one such literary piece id his Invisible Man. This work expounds the theme that American society willfully ignores and oppresses African Americans. But can a book, dedicated to the exposure of the rampant evils of racism, also find in this evil a positive aspect? We must look beyond the text and into the thoughts behind the words to find the positive results of racism in this novel. Some believe that through difficulty and oppression, people are truly able to find themselves. If this is, indeed, true, in the case of the Invisible Man, then through his experiences he should have been able to discover himself. Though the main character remains confused, there are certain instances based on racial incidents that allow the character, if not to have found himself, to ponder more and deeper questions about his identity. But are not such questions, even though they have not explicit answers, positive? Is not the quest for knowledge and for self-realization positive? It is implicitly within these questions that plague our Invisible Man that we can find our traces of the positive aspects of racism. Subtle as they may be, this aspect of the novel is the only positive element in racism as it is presented by Ellison.

Many have claimed that there is no solid evidence of any positive aspect to racism in the story. However, if we look beyond the action and the thoughts , we can see those very aspects are present and significant. Ellison gives us no final resolution to the novel; Invisible Man is as perplexed as ever as to his identity, but he is, in no way, the same man he was early on. He has changed and will continue to change. That is positive. Through struggles we all learn; it lies within us to find the positive in the negative.

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