Danya Center, http://link.galegroup.com/apps/doc/H1420035587/LitRC?u=kitsap_main&sid=LitRC&xid=6c1ee3a7. Accessed 23 Jan. 2018. In

Danya Wallis1/23/18Period 3Johnson, Kendall. “Critical Essay on ‘The Invisible Man; or, Battle Royal’.” Short Stories for Students, edited by Jennifer Smith, vol. 11, Gale, 2001. Literature Resource Center, http://link.galegroup.com/apps/doc/H1420035587/LitRC?u=kitsap_main&sid=LitRC&xid=6c1ee3a7. Accessed 23 Jan. 2018. In the novel Invisible Man, the author Ralph Ellison, portrays an African American man, the narrator, who believes people refuse to see him. Though the story is told from a manhole, throughout the novel the narrator travels to achieve self-definition. The narrator fights in the battle royal, gives a speech to leaders who don’t listen, and is expelled.From there he heads to New York where he joins a multiracial communist party called the Brotherhood, and soon learns they plan to sacrifice the people of Harlem for a greater cause. Once Harlem breaks out in a riot, the narrator starts running down the street where he ends up falling into where he is now, the manhole. He decides to hibernate there and ends up writing the story Invisible Man. In the scholarly article “Critical Essay on ‘The Invisible Man; or, Battle Royal'”, the author Kendall Johnson compares Invisible Man to an essay written by Ralph Waldo Emerson called “Nature”. In “Nature”, Emerson “elucidated the optimistic promise of American individualism”. “Critical Essay” reviews individualism, the ideal self, and inspects the idealism beliefs of the narrator. Along with these ideas, Johnson examines the obvious racism in the novel. In “Critical Essay”, Johnson is trying to decipher between real events and the narrator’s idealism. When the narrator reflects about the battle royal, he talks about visualizing himself as Booker T. Washington, and says that the other “fellows” on the stage didn’t care much for him. Johnson says “the narrator clings to Washington’s image to elevate himself above the other African Americans.” Instead of keeping mutual support within the group of classmates, “the narrator sees Washington as a means of access into a higher class world that affords association with whites”. In the essay “Nature”, Emerson uses a complex metaphor of the “transparent eyeball”, implying both a transcendent individual and a vanishing of individualism. As the transparency of the eyeball implies a universal model representing all people, Ellison uses the phrase “invisibility” to contradict this idealism. The narrator demonstrates that even if one believes himself of becoming transparent, one is going to be limited by people’s preconception about race, gender, and social class. There is more racism shown during the speech the narrator gives at the graduation. The narrator slips in the word “equality” instead of “responsibility” and the white crowd acts out. A man asks, “You weren’t being smart, were you, boy?” Johnson mentions the disturbing part being that the narrator’s “mistake” is not the statement of “social equality” but that the narrator is being “smart” implying that he is making fun of the white audience as the whole speech being a charade, when in reality, the narrator is trying to share his actual belief in the importance of social equality. Within the mistake the narrator made in the graduation speech, and the idea of becoming transparent backfiring from societies preconception on race, Johnson highlights the obvious racism Invisible Man has. Johnson says, “it is difficult to achieve the visionary capability of the ‘transparent eyeball’ when one is being seen as a stereotype, rendered an object whose identity is reduced to the color of skin.” The points made by Johnson in this well developed article comparing “Nature” and Invisible Man which allude idealism and racism, are valid as these   ideas are shown throughout this novel and in real life events.


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