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Esmeralda Ocana


In Ralph Ellisons novel Invisible Man, he begins his introduction by stating that he is
invisible and why hes invisible. However, not in complete detail, yet. Ellisons purpose is to let
his readers know that society is responsible for people conforming and becoming nothing or in
this case invisible.

Ellisons choice of diction in the beginning of the passage, No, I am not a spook like
those who haunted Edgar Allen Poe He says this to clarify that he is not invisible like a ghost
as one would normally assume. He is invisible in a sense where society simply refuses to
acknowledge his existence. His choice of diction was the usage of spook instead of the word
ghost. This gives the passage a more eerie mood. With his choice of diction he makes it
obvious he isnt another form of life living on earth but rather a soulless body in the eyes of
others because they dont want to see him and so he is forced to conform and be a nobody
because he has no other choice.

Ellison uses the repetition of the I form throughout the entire passage, this was
purposefully done. He isnt making it about him but rather about everyone else, specifically
people who struggle with their identity. Examples of this are on pg.1, I am an invisible man,
I have been surrounded by and I am a man of substance When Ellison says that, he is
simply stating what is going on with him. This gives the appeal of ethos to one because hes
saying that he is invisible. This makes the audience think, Well if it happens to him, whos to
say it doesnt happen to more people? This gives Ellison credibility with his purpose because
the audience realizes society really is responsible for people who struggle with their identity and
Ellison is a prime of example.

Ellison then moves to the use of similes towards the end of the passage. On page 1,
Ellison states, I am invisible understand, simply because people refuse to see me. Like the
bodiless heads you see sometimes in circus sideshows, it is as though I have been surrounded by
mirrors of hard, distorting glass. This quote of Ellison basically means what it says; he is
invisible because society does not acknowledge him. He compares his invisibility to bodies with
no heads from a circus show. This gives the effect of imagery because one can compare his
meaning of invisible to what we as the audience think of as invisible in reality. The use of that
specific simile furthers his purpose because it points the fingers at society, blaming, and making
society responsible for him having to be invisible. This makes the audience want to put an end to
ignoring people for not being what society expects them to be.

Society is responsible for every person who struggles with who they are or who theyre
supposed to be, according to Ellison. He wants to put an end to this. In a way this passage is a
call to action in a more hidden way, purposely done to make his call to action more affective.

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