In Ralph Elision’s novel, “Invisible Man”, when the narrator says that “it is sometimes advantageous to be unseen”, he, in fact, refers to a symbiotic relationship between his self-awareness and his awareness of the white society’s reluctance to acknowledge his…
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He says that being invisible is both advantageous and oppressive. One of the advantages which he notes is that being invisible gives him a power which he can exert on the world and a type of freedom which he can enjoy without suffering the consequences. Obviously, there is a glaring sarcasm in the narrator’s comment. Whereas the American society, the champion of freedom, will not allow him to exist or to be in the way he wants, he rather grows and cherishes his freedom behind the eyesight of this society. When the narrator’s invisibility is advantageous to him, it is harmful to the dominant white society because it endows the narrator with an antagonistic self-perception, more specifically with a hostile self-identity which teaches him to spit hatred and antagonism at the whites. In fact, the narrator does not directly acknowledge his antagonism against the whites; instead, he seems to say that this antagonism is essentially the projection of the dominant white society’s reluctance to acknowledge his existence.
Elision’s novel tells about the identity crisis of an anonymous black man who struggle hard to ‘exist’ or to be in the dominant white society. From a first person-perspective, the story is told by an anonymous narrator. Even he does not reveal his names what he received from his school, the factory hospital, and the Brotherhood. This anonymity of the narrator is symbolic of his invisibility in the society. Throughout the novel, he appears as a voice or a ghostly character that yearns to be recognized (Stolyarov pars. 1). Furthermore, he exists as a form of consciousness that yearns to be acknowledged by the people in his surroundings in his society. But since the society refuses to recognize what he wants to be and wants to impose a stereotypical identity upon him, he feels that he lives an ‘invisible’ life in it, as he says, “I am invisible, understand, simply because people refuse to see me”
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