Invisible Man

State Standards

  • 3.0 Literary Response and Analysis- Students read and respond to historically or culturally significant works of literature that reflect and enhance their studies of history and social science. They conduct in-depth analyses of recurrent themes. The selections in Recommended Literature, Kindergarten Through Grade Twelve illustrate the quality and complexity of the materials to be read by students.

Project Summary

Invisible Man was a striking novel of satire that illuminated the gap between whites and blacks at the time of its publishing. The novel was also a strong example of existentialism, as it brought in to question the very idea of one's individuality and the nature of one's own existence. Invisible Man was a groundbreaking novel that shattered conceptions of race, and gave literature students for decades into the future a wonderful novel to analyze. Our task in analyzing Invisible Man was to select a symbol or motif and analyze its significance within the novel. The sheer number of symbols in Invisible Man is overwhelming and all too easy to discern. I chose to analyze the narrator's briefcase and discovered that it was a motif linked to significant occurrences at every major turning point within the novel.

What I Learned

From my analysis of Invisible Man, I learned a great deal about satire and the use of symbols to propagate satire. Ralph Ellison's use of symbols in Invisible Man was shocking for its widespread use. Ellison uses so many symbols in Invisible Man that there are symbols within the symbols. It is truly amazing, and inspires me to improve my literary works with the use of more symbols. I also found Invisible Man to be an excellent source of opinion on the status of race relations in the era it was published.

The Essay