Invisible Man

Invisible Man

Book - 1995
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"First published in 1952 and immediately hailed as a masterpiece, Invisible Man is one of those rare novels that have changed the shape of American literature. For not only does Ralph Ellison's nightmare journey across the racial divide tell unparalleled truths about the nature of bigotry and its effects on the minds of both victims and perpetrators, it gives us an entirely new model of what a novel can be. As he journeys from the Deep South to the streets and basements of Harlem, from a horrifying "battle royal" where black men are reduced to fighting animals, to a Communist rally where they are elevated to the status of trophies, Ralph Ellison's nameless protagonist ushers readers into a parallel universe that throws our own into harsh and even hilarious relief. Suspenseful and sardonic, narrated in a voice that takes in the symphonic range of the American language, black and white, Invisible Man is one of the most audacious and dazzling novels of our time."--P. [4] of cover.
Publisher: New York : Vintage International/Random House, Inc., 1995, c1947.
Edition: 2nd Vintage International ed.
ISBN: 9780679732761
Characteristics: xxiii, 581 p. ; 21 cm.
Subjects: African American men -- Fiction.
African Americans -- Social conditions -- To 1964 -- Fiction.
Literature, Modern -- Fiction.
African Americans -- Fiction.
United States -- Race relations -- Fiction.
African American authors


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Oct 09, 2020

I read this book for my AP Literature class and I absolutely loved it. (Fun fact, Invisible Man is the #1 most frequently cited text on the AP Literature Exam from 1970-2019!) Ellison writes with a conversational narrative that makes his content easy to digest to the average reader. He tackles issues of racism and racial inequality through his symbolism and is a prime example of successful storytelling. What I like most is how each chapter can stand alone as its own short story. Obviously, reading the novel whole offers its own benefits in terms of depth and contextualization, but each chapter contains its own lesson/moral and can tell a story in its own right. However, I must digress: it tends to oversimplify the issue of race. In fairness, racism in America is a huge systemic issue that is deeply rooted in the past and continues to affect our present, so it is difficult to encompass all that needs to be said in a high school-level book. In all, I think it is a great read that offers new perspectives and opens the door to more insightful conversations about race, and I highly recommend it.

Aug 29, 2020

The book in a nutshell: A tragedy. This man tries his hardest to the best he can be, but people and circumstances push him down. Everywhere he goes, he’s just used by new people. And he remains naive. Unrealistically so. He gets pushed around by people without seeming to have any goals or aspirations of his own. After he finally becomes wiser, he just wants to be a hermit.

Chapter 1 shows racist treatment by whites against blacks. The blacks get called niggers and are forced to fight each other blindfolded for the whites’ entertainment. That kind of thing is so obviously wrong. And yet today you have a white professor getting fired for not giving all of his black students automatic passing grades. The racism blacks supposedly face today is nothing compared to the real racism they faced decades ago.

The way The Brotherhood members call each other brothers, want to start revolutions, etc. reminds me of socialism and democrats. I guess it mirrors modern times with democrats using blacks for their own agendas.

How the brotherhood seems to be a socialist/communist group:
they get mad about a man selling things (458), they believe wealth is corrupt (yet they have plenty), and they hate America (506).

How the brotherhood is like Black Lives Matter: “We dramatized the shooting down of an unarmed black man” (458).
“[The Brotherhood] want a race riot and I am against it. The more of us who are killed, the better they like. . . . They want the mobs to come uptown with machine guns and rifles. They want the streets to flow with blood; your blood, black blood and white blood, so that they can turn your death and sorrow and defeat into propaganda” (548-549). “Let’s stop running and respect and love one another” (551).

How the brotherhood is like the Democrat party: “The trick is to take advantage of them in their own best interest” (496).
“It was all a swindle, an obscene swindle! They had set themselves up to describe the world. What did they know of us, except that we numbered so many, worked on certain jobs, offered so many votes, and provided so many marchers for some protest parade of theirs?” (499)

Take a lesson from The Invisible Man, and don’t let yourself be used for some group’s agenda. You don’t see Joe Biden protesting in the streets for BLM, do you? But when you donate to BLM, the money goes to rich white democrat politicians!

Aug 26, 2020

In Invisible man we meet our protagonist in an underground hideout, the novel opens with him stating that he isn’t really invisible, he’s not paid attention to and isn’t acknowledged. The book takes place in the pre-civil rights era, the narrator is a black man who tries to make it in a country where racial equality isn’t a thing yet. The book does its job of showing readers what it felt to be a black man back then and the problems they had to face just because their skin color was different. The protagonist has to overcome many adversities, which most people wouldn’t even endure. The roles of women were portrayed with the usual stereotype which was definitely a negative point for me, but it is an inspiring read! Rising above and standing up for what’s right is a great moral portrayed in the book.

Jun 10, 2020

Invisible Man, written by Ralph Ellison, is an eye-opening book that all high school students need to read! I enjoyed reading this novel because of recurring motifs that occur throughout the story. As the narrator grows and changes the motifs that are in his life, such as running, evolve as well. Ellison does a fantastic job of conveying the strife that African-Americans face not only socially, but also intellectually as the narrator attempts to navigate through the expectations that society places on him. In light of Ellison’s eloquent ability to inspire his audience through symbolism and characterization, readers can walk away from this novel and face their fears, and not hide from what frightens them. I would one-hundred percent read this book again as it contains elements of society versus man, internal versus external struggles, and a sense of relatability that all readers can understand. Invisible Man demonstrates that even if we are nameless in a society that constantly criticizes those who are different, we will be able to rise above it in the end and face our fear of fighting for what we believe in. I rated this novel a 4 out of 5 because of the frank and blatant style of the novel that is truly able to take grasp of readers and teach them about the strife of being an Africa-American person in the 20th century and today. Similarly, the novel is of medium difficulty to comprehend and contains a strong use of symbolism throughout the novel to convey the bigger meanings behind events that occur in the novel.

Mar 30, 2020

Ever wondered what being a black man feels like in the 70s or 60s? During a time where no one wants to see a black person succeed at anything, one young black man (the author did not state the protagonist’s name because he is the “invisible man”) fought against the society with his eloquence, knowledge, and determination.
I believe that this book is very inspiring but also discouraging and I will explain my points. The protagonist encountered a myriad of adversaries mostly because of his race and what he is up to. Although plenty of men were strongly against him whereas some even attempted to kill him, he did not acquiesce to these people even though he lost spectacularly in the end. He shared his idea through all of his speeches, and he got quite famous because of his eloquence. However, some people greatly disliked him and wanted to get rid of him because some of his points are dangerously made which can be against the law at some point. Personally, I believe that the cause for his failure is that he went too famous too quickly and carelessly created a few gaps for his opponents to slip in and take over. The ending of the book is a tragedy for no one liked or dared to listen to him anymore, but he has brought the dream of an anti-racism society one step closer. Star Rating: 4.5/5
@tiny_astronaut of The Hamilton Public Library's Teen Review Board

Aug 11, 2019

Profound and touching. I can see some of myself in the hero, naive and hopeful when young, disappointed to encounter betrayal, still trying to be resilient. I thought of this book after seeing the exhibit at the Nelson-Atkins about African-American artists; the Kansas City Public Library has a list of recommended books related to the exhibit. The exhibit, like the book, shows African-Americans counter to stereotypes: bold and resourceful. I regret that women are stereotyped in the book.

Jul 26, 2019

Absolute torture. Written with a sledgehammer, not a pen.

JCLS_Ashland_Kristin Jul 10, 2019

I'd never read this and decided to rectify that fact. There is so much about the world today that resonates with the experiences of the nameless narrator of this book. Picaresque novels aren't my fav...but this one packs a punch.

HCL_featured Sep 19, 2018

"Retained in the Yakima, WA schools (1994) after a five-month dispute over what advanced high school students should read in the classroom. Two parents raised concerns about profanity and images of violence and sexuality in the book and requested that it be removed from the reading list. " from American Library Association

Jul 18, 2018

Did not finish

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TSCPL_ChrisB Jun 06, 2016

What and how much had I lost by trying to do only what was expected of me instead of what I myself had wished to do?

Feb 14, 2015

“To Whom It May Concern . . . Keep This Nigger-Boy Running"


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Aug 07, 2011

- Just not in the mood for a southern bigotry novel and the damage done to people. Didn’t read much of it.


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