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The Invisible Man
Ralph Ellison manages to develop a strong philosophy through characterization in the Invisible Man. Ellison portrays the lonely narrator's quest in struggling to search for his identity and an understanding of his times. The well development of the character lays out the foundation on the philosophy of finding and understanding himself. Through a labyrinth of corruption and deceit the narrator undergoes events that manage to enrich his experience and further contribute in his search for himself. Such scenes include the battle royal scene, the college, Trueblood's visit, and the blueprint seller.
The narrator at first never realizes his innocence. At first the timid Invisible Man is invited to attend his scholarship award ceremony. However with other Negroes he is rushed to the front of the ballroom where a stripper frightens them by dancing in nude. After staging the "battle royal" and attacking one another in response to the drunken shouts of the rich white folk, the boy is brought to give his prepared oration of gratitude to the white benefactors. An accidental remark to equality nearly ruins him, but the narrator manages to survive and is given a briefcase containing a scholarship to a Negro college. This acts a high peak in the narrator's quest since it sets him for his struggle in searching for himself.
The narrator adores the college however is thrown out before long by its president, Dr.Bledsoe, the great educator and leader of his race. Ironically the narrator had seen Dr.Bledsoe as an idol aiming to gradually impersonate him. He was expelled for permitting, Mr.Norton , one of the college founders into the slave quarters and the Golden Day bar. After that incident the Invisible Man goes through the sense that he is losing his identity. This initiates an air of confusion as the narrator is now brought in a quarrel against himself.
In the prologue the Invisible Man quotes, "I was naïve…I was looking for myself and asking everyone except myself questions which only I could answer." The narrator is tempted to set out in the quest to search for his identity. The prologue identified the theme to the readers. It was however during Trueblood's visit that the character manages to learn about his true background and roots. It is through such people, of his true Southern nature, that the narrator glimpses a view on himself. This is true also when the Invisible Man encounters the blueprint seller who sang the blues, a common song of the south. Although the Invisible Man was in the North, he still found himself clinging on to the southerner, since he was of his similar race.
If the narrator succeeds in finding his own identity then he will definitely be truthful to himself and the others. By finding his identity the narrator has ensured friendships and encounters with many people, since loneliness will be avoided. The Invisible Man's identity ensured him that he had opposed the idea of manipulating the whites as "Gods" or "Forces" through the "grins" and "yesses" while the whites manage to achieve their destiny through their control over him.
Through characterization Ellison has managed to reveal his philosophy that dealt with struggling to find one's identity. The characters have been developed in a sense that has them reflect one another's traits and personalities. Through many encounters the narrator begins to set out to find who he truly is. By questioning his everyday living the narrator manages to progress in the quest to achieve his goal.
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Invisible Man, Ralph Ellison, Narration
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