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Racism and the Identity Crisis of Ralph Elisions Protagonist in Invisible Man - Term Paper Example

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Ralph Elision’s novel “Invisible Man” deals with the identity crisis of an unnamed black narrator who struggles hard to ‘be’ or ‘exist’ in a white-dominated society. The story, being narrated from a first person point of view, never reveals the real name of the narrator. …
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Racism and the Identity Crisis of Ralph Elisions Protagonist in Invisible Man
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Download file to see previous pages In an article, “Racism in Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man” Carol Fosse comments on this everyman status of Elision’s protagonist, as following: “Rich in symbolism…Invisible Man's linear plot structure, told from the first person, limited point of view, and framed by the Everyman protagonist from his subterranean home, follows the narrator in his search for identity in a color-conscious society”. Elision’s novel “Invisible Man” deals with what is essentially characterized as the postmodern destabilization of African-American identity in ways that also engages with debates in African-American literary studies that obviously influences author like Percival Everett profoundly. Like Elision’s protagonist, most of Everett’s protagonists’ race-based Negro identity appears to be in incessant destabilization that necessarily goes into conflicts with the dominant white culture’s race-based affirmation of the identity for the African-American minority. Like Elision’s novel, Percival Everett’s “Erasure” also deals the African-American identity-crisis through the interactions of the protagonist Elision Monk with his race and the white society. Monk wryly introduces himself, “I have dark brown skin, curly hair, a broad nose, some of my ancestors were slaves and I have been detained by pasty white policemen in New Hampshire, Arizona and Georgia and so the society in which I live tells me I am black; that is my race.” (Everett 4) His novel, primarily, reveals a major part of the dilemma of the black identity. On one hand, Everett cannot shake off the American dream of a heterogeneous but harmonious society; on the other hand, there are apparently perpetuating obstacles to the assimilation of the black community with the mainstream of the society. Everett’s protagonist, Monk’s, who represents the author himself, perception of his own identity as a black writer has always left him in a conundrum which is very much similar to that of Ralph Elision’s protagonist. Monk describes this problem of his black identity: While in college, I was a member of the Black Panther Party, defunct as it was, mainly because I felt I had to prove I was black enough. Some people in the society in which I live, describe as being black, tell me I am not enough. Some people, who the society calls white, tell me the same thing. (Everett 118) To be a successful black in the white society Monk has to be “black enough” (Everett 118). Being ‘black enough’ means reflecting brute aspects of the black culture enough. In order to win the scholarship in the college, Elision’s protagonist also has to be black enough by participating “battle royal” which reflects “the caste system of a Southern town” (Klein 113). The identity conundrum of the protagonists essentially evolves from the white society’s reluctance to acknowledge the individuality of an African American. Here Elision engages with the debate whether the Black community should retain its cultural and racial homogeneity or merge with the mainstream white society. He further argues that though color-aware affirmative-actions are supposed to ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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