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Blindness and Invisibility in Invisible Man

Ralph Ellison's novel Invisible Man is a composition that combines numerous objects that carry different symbolic meanings and similarly augment the main concepts of identification, invisibility, and perception. In reality, the novel as a whole is somewhat invisible, as readers cannot even get to know the narrator himself, let alone cases for visionaries and flashbacks. In some examples, the narrator depicts a variety of dreams with the symbolic intent of obscuring the fact at hand by progressing sweat childhood experiences or college, which are diametrically opposed to his present condition. While there are several symbolic presentations, invisibility and blindness are perhaps the most evident, elaborating crucial thematic issues the narrator wanted to underscore. Indeed, in presenting the concepts of blindness and invisibility from a symbolic point of view, Ellison managed to show the readers the multifaceted nature of the social exclusion that this novel was founded on.
According to Ellison, being invisible meant being taken by others as a collective representation of certain stereotypic generalizations instead of being considered as an individual self. It is on this basis that the narrator sought to present himself on the novel where he only remained a voice and hardly emerged as an external and quantifiable thing. The narrator laments that being invisible was not something he fancied but rather he considered it as the unwillingness of the surrounding people to notice him perhaps because he was from the black race. The narrator noted that, "they see only my surroundings, themselves, or figments of their imagination-indeed, everything except me" (Bloom, Harold). In other words, the narrator meant that the stereotypic constructions advanced by the dominant society then would not allow them to find out his true nature. They, thus, turned themselves literally blind to his existence or other persons of his race.
Surprisingly, the narrator would eventually consider being invisible as the ideal way of dealing with the stereotypic society. The notion of terming himself an �invisible man� was possibly a way of getting satisfaction, as he had come to the conclusion that the people of the world have turned blind and could not see him as who he was. Indeed, the motif of invisibility cannot be addressed in isolation from that of blindness. Both appear hand in hand such that one becomes invisible perhaps because the other has become blind of his or her existence. Interestingly, the concept of invisibility has been treated with some sense of ambiguity where in one end it can bring disempowerment but it can also bred mobility and freedom in the other end. The freedom that the narrator has used to tell his story is traced his invisibility but it equally led to disempowerment to many of his fellow race men.
Blindness is perhaps one of the most crucial motifs of the novel, as it plainly tells how people were willing to avoid staring and facing the truth. The narrator blames this concept of blindness among his kinsmen where they were unable to see the extent of prejudice that had bred in the society to his lifestyle of living invisibly. In fact, the �battle royal� where boys were fighting while wearing blindfolds was a symbol of their helplessness and their inability to be aware of their oppression by the white men (Bloom, Harold). The symbolic meaning of the empty eyes of the Founder�s statue signified his blatant neglect and disregard of the prevailing racist realities. The narrator also seemed to have fallen into the traps of blindness, as shown in Chapter Sixteen when he spoke to the congregation of black community under huge, blinding lights.
It is without doubt that the concepts of invisibility and blindness vastly advanced by the narrator were dictated by the then prevailing politics of sight. The concepts allowed the writer visualize a black male prejudice that is utterly outside of the visually construed white, heteromale supremacy. Through blindness, one can see a white society that is unwilling to accept the black race, but at the same time the blindness amongst the black people that have forced them to submit to their inferiority becomes utterly apparent. Luckily, the blindness in the white American society would eventually contribute to the state of black consciousness, as they would start fighting for their space.
The political dimensions that represented the better part of the American history are strongly captured in the novel. The oppressions subjected to the blacks sometimes back are the frameworks of this novel. However, the narrator was smart enough to choose their symbolic meanings for representation of the key themes. While most blacks have been quick to blame the whites for the their social predicaments due to exclusions, the narrator openly blamed the blacks as well for failing to reject such oppressions by becoming blind and submitting to them. in fact the narrator would eventually confess that being invisible was not helpful to his life nor of the people of his race. He bemoaned that, �If you'll look, you'll see� it is not invisible� there hang not only my generations wasting upon the water" (Bloom, Harold) confirming that invisibility and being blind was no longer helpful.

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Work cited
Bloom, Harold. The Invisible Man. Broomhall, Pa., Chelsea House, 2001,.

August 31, 2021

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