Invisible Man Timed Writing

8 August 2016

Ashley Black Mrs. Gill AP Lit. 4th hour 20 September 2013 Invisible Man Timed Writing Everyone experiences that one pivotal moment in their life where everything changes; this moment defines who one is and establishes one’s place in the world. In Ralph Ellison’s novel, Invisible Man, the narrator experiences his pivotal moment when he burns all of the papers in his briefcase. This moment shapes the meaning of the novel as a whole by emphasizing invisibility and self-discovery

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Throughout the novel the narrator is constantly changing his identity in order to please his superiors and make something of himself in the world. This is demonstrated when the narrator does everything he can to be a model student and please his headmaster, Dr. Bleedsoe. This is also explicated when he changes his name—in other words his identity—to become a speaker for the Brotherhood. In each of these instances the narrator changes who is only to be used and abused and exploited.

However, no matter how many times he finds out that he is being used he continues to do whatever he can to please those around him. It is not until the narrator experiences his pivotal moment that he finally stops trying to please everyone and starts living for himself. By forsaking the Brotherhood through his pivotal moment, the narrator finally realizes that he had just been a tool used by all of those who he had trusted and looked up to. No one ever sees him for who he really is; he is invisible.

As a result, he comes to the revelation that pleasing them at the cost of his identity will get him nowhere in the world. Therefore, by burning all of the papers that identify him, he is burning all of the identities that society has created for him in order to create his own. Moving on, the meaning of the author’s work as a whole is discovering one’s self at one’s own expense. In other words not losing yourself to the competitive nature of society by becoming what others wants you to be. The narrator’s pivotal moment enhances this meaning through its introduction of invisibility and self-discovery. To illustrate, when the author burns all of the papers that identify him, he finally realizes that he is invisible. Those around him do not see him even though he has done everything he could to please them. He has no identity. Thus, the only way for him to gain his own identity is to stop obeying what society says and becoming what society want him to become. As he realizes that what the world around him has made him is not who he wants to be the narrator discovers himself.

This once again connects back to the author’s meaning of not losing one’s self to society. Ralph Ellison’s, Invisible Man, effectively exemplifies a Bildungsroman. It does this by containing a character that undergoes a discovery, one that explicates his “coming of age,” which is incited when he burns all of the papers in his briefcase that identify him. This pivotal moment allows the narrator to acquire a new understanding of who he is and contributes to the author’s meaning of not losing one’s self to society by emphasizing invisibility and self-discovery.

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