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Invisible Man: Epilogue

Ralph Ellison

Plot Summary
● The narrator is back in the present and has made his way back to his home ● He realizes that the world will always vile but also wonderful (Bloom) ● The narrator also comes to the conclusion that even though he can't be seen, he still has a sociallly responsible role to play (Bloom) ● The narrator decides to leave his hibernation and go into the world

"When one is invisible he finds such problems as good and evil, honesty and dishonesty, of such shifting shapes that he confuses one with the other, depending upon who happens to be looking through him at the time" (Ellison 572).


"Too often, in order to justify them, I had to take myself by the throat and choke myself until my eyes bulged and my tongue hung out and wagged like the door of an empty house in a high wind. Oh, yes, it made them happy and it made me sick. So I became ill of affirmation, of saying "'yes"' against the nay-saying of my stomach-not to mention my brain" ( Ellison 573).

" Life is to be lived, not controlled; and humanity is won by continuing to play in face of certain defeat. Our fate is to become one, and yet many- This is not prophecy, but description" (Ellison 577).

Stock Illustration - Cutting strings of businessman puppet

Theme White vs. Black
○ The separation of white and black is a major theme ○ The white people are society and is referred to as "'them"' ○ The narrator is invisible because "'they"' refuse to see him beyond the color of his skin ○ The narrator is constantly struggling to find his worth in "'their" world

Theme Black vs. Black
● Fighting for the different black views ● Jealousy among the blacks ● Blacks took sides and for a while the narrator switched between the two groups not knowing what he stood for ● He finally came to the conclusion that he stood for no one and that he was his own person and should just be himself

Theme Identity
● The Narrator's search for finding his identity begins when he gets kicked out of college and finds out the truth about his job search ● The novel focuses on where does the Narrator fit in and what group does he belong to ● In the end he finds himself

● Society's effect:
○ Society makes you invisible ○ "You go along for years knowing something is wrong, then suddenly you discover that you're as transparent as air. At first you tell yourself that it's all a dirty joke, or that it's due to the "political situation." But deep down you come to suspect that you're yourself to blame, and you stand naked and shivering before the millions of eyes who look through you unseeingly" (Ellison).

● African American Struggle:
○ Society forces African Americans to strive to

be something they are not: white ○ Society is not accepting of differences ○ "Why, if they follow this conformity business they'll end up by forcing me, an invisible man, to become white, which is not a color but the lack of one. Must I strive toward colorlessness?" (Ellison).

Work Cited for Text
Bloom, Harold, ed. "Invisible Man." Invisible Man, Bloom's Guides. New York: Chelsea House Publishing, 2008. Bloom's Literary Reference Online. Facts On File, Inc. BGIM014&SingleRecord=True (accessed May 29, 2013). Ellison, Ralph. "Invisible Man." Invisible Man. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Ellison, Ralph. Invisible Man. New York: Vintage Books, 1995. Print.

Work Cited for Pictures
"Esoteric-Taijitu-Yin-Yang | Shine." Shine | Meet Work Eat Socialise. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 May 2013. < uk/2013/01/perfecting-your-art-principles-to-mastery/esoteric-taijitu-yinyang/>. "Stock Illustration - Cutting strings of businessman puppet." Illustration Source. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 May 2013. <http://www.illustrationsource. com/stock/image/42821/cutting-strings-of-businessman-puppet/? &results_per_page=1&detail=TRUE&page=9>.