Literary Quote of the Month

“For poems are not, as people think, simply emotions (one has emotions early enough)—they are experiences,” … Rilke, The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Banned Books Week continues with more from the Invisible Man...

I've gotten a little farther in Invisible Man and have gotten to know our narrator a little bit better... It's like that old saying, "if I didn't have bad luck, I wouldn't have any luck at all." Our narrator just can't do anything right. After the incident at college, where he introduces one of the white founders of the university to the seedier sides of the community, he get's expelled. Now, Ellison's reasons for having our narrator take that trip seem to be to show us that no matter what station in life our narrator feels he's in, what it all comes down to is that the color of his skin is still Black, and that the white people around him, really see no class distinction. If he doesn't play "the game", he won't survive. His innocent mis-steps showcase this and slowly he begins to wake up to the fact that his invisibility is not due to his doing what is expected of him, but to the fact that he's not considered an individual; Someone with thoughts and ideas.

As the story goes on, our narrator gets expelled from school, backstabbed by the Headmaster of the school (who is Black, but tows the line and doesn't want anyone upsetting his cushy life), moves to New York, and starts to adjust to a different kind of life. A life where Black and White interact on a daily basis, without much fanfare, and where he begins to experience prejudice from his own people. Up until now, Ellison makes huge distinctions between the races, and has his characters openly disparage the "White power", which of course would make some people reading his book very uncomfortable. But the banter in this book is reflective of the era that it was written. And to quote award winning journalist Roger Rosenblatt, "Ralph Ellison's "Invisible Man," which won the National Book Award in 1953, was instantly recognized as a masterpiece, a novel that captured the grim realities of racial discrimination as no book had."

I'm almost half way through the book... stop by for more insights as I continue reading Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison for Banned Books Week!

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