'Invisible Man' by Ralph Ellison is a novel detailing an unnamed African-American's journey from the south to the streets of Harlem. The reader sees the main character attempt to find his place within the world, as well as within himself. In this novel written in 1947, there exists a need to understand the racial divide within New York City, and the novel uses the experience the main character has in the south and in Harlem to explore these issues. By the end of the novel, there has been a change in the character's mindset, though it is hard to tell entirely what it is. The passage I chose to look into lines on page 6. It is in the prologue of the novel right after the main character talks about his fight with Monopolated Light & Power, and it is before the speech about the light within the character's home. The passage goes through the main character's home, calling it a hole in the ground. He then goes on to explain what he means when he calls his home a hole, and how he is in a state of hibernation.
I have divided the section I chose into two sections. The first takes up the first four sentences since these deal with the main character's home. It starts with “The point now…” and ends on “…Easter chick breaking from his shell.” The second section is the last three sentences and it focuses on the idea that being invisible does not mean being dead. Though I have divided it into two sections, I plan to divide this essay based on each sentence within the section I have chosen. I have done this in order to best look into each word of each line.
[...] Suspended animation is the slowing of life by external means, or it could be a frozen state of movement. Either way it seems to be a sense of being stuck, and again unresponsive. The main character is trying to explain his situation within the prologue, and as he explains it, it is easy to see him as an outcast removing himself from society: or as he puts it, being an invisible man. But there is a need within the character to clarify his existence, and I chose this particular passage due to the way he attempts to describe his life. [...]
[...] The main character makes it clear that he is invisible and that he lives in a hole, but that he is not dead. The second part of this sentence tells us that he is in a state of hibernation. In line four the main character mentions the hibernation of bears. By calling himself a bear, and then saying he is a state of hibernation” it could be said that he is using his previous example of a bear's sleep in winter as an example of what he is. Throughout this passage of [...]
[...] By having this alongside the analogy of the hibernation, there is a sense of rebirth along with spring. When the bear leaves his hole, it is reborn just like a chick “breaking from his shell”. Easter is also afflicted with the spring since that is when it takes place, and it is also a holiday that deals with rebirth. say all this to assure you that it is incorrect to assume that, because I am invisible and live in a hole, I am dead.” This is the start of the second section of the passage I chose. [...]
[...] don't jump to the conclusion that because I call my home a it is damp and cold like a grave; there are cold holes and warm holes.” Here we are given another This brings the reader back into the words, by putting the words into the present. The main character here understands that by naming his home a hole certain conations are made. So this sentence is used to get rid of the conations, this can be seen by the “don't jump to the conclusion” that is at the beginning of the sentence. [...]
[...] By doing this the character has accepted the conations that a hole has, and is telling the reader not to think of his home as fitting within those conations. A semicolon is placed there to break apart the sentence into two parts. The first part is where the main character breaks down the connection between the word hole and the thoughts of dampness and cold that go along with it. The second part is the character's refuting that connection by explaining that there are cold holes and warm holes. [...]
Online readingwith our online reader
Content validatedby our reading committee