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Motifs of Invisible Man Essay

Throughout Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison the narrator battles many battles continuously. These motifs that all compile into the very many themes of the literary work. The motifs range from blindness to invisibility even to the racism keeping our narrator from discovering his true identity. Blindness is the most used motif in Invisible Man. The narrator and his peers are always battling blindness throughout the novel. Throughout the novel blindness is a problem because willfully avoid seeing and confronting the true problem. ”Within the American conscience with such an intensity towards his predicament” (Forward Page 2).

During the time period the moral blindness of whites was a major problem, but so was the blindness of blacks. Many of the brothers remained blind to the true problem they were confronting. Also blindness takes a few literal turns. One during the “Battle Royal”, when the boys fight blindfolded, and the second the statue of the founder is described as “not having eyes”. Blindness also literally suffers from blindness. The motif, blindness, tells us about the actions and feeling of the society. The second major motif is invisibility. Not only is it in the title, but this topic plays major role throughout the novel.

The book starts out with the narrator saying “I am an Invisible Man” (page 3). This motif continues to appear all the time until the epilogue. The motif of invisibility goes hand in hand with moral blindness. While blindness has a bad connotation, Invisibility can bring freedom and mobility. ”I’ve overstayed my hibernation, since there’s a possibility that even an invisible man has a socially responsible role to play” (Page 571). The narrator realizes that being invisible may be a safe position, but he would never be able to make a major impact in the world.

Although he is comfortable as an invisible man he emerges to go make a visible impact on the world. The last major motif, Racism, is an obstacle to finding individual identity. Throughout the novel he struggles to find his true identity. As he passes from minor society to minor society he tries to adapt their identity on to him. Each time he takes away from his individuality. The narrator finally realizes that racism just causes him to see what others want him to see. He comes to this realization when he says “and I knew it was better to live out f one’s own absurdity than to die for that of others, whether for Ras’s or Jack’s” (page 559).

In the end he chooses to be productive by making his own contributions to society; force others to acknowledge, and to clarify the reality of thoughts outside of their prejudiced notions. The narrator battles blindness of others, the comfort of invisibility, and the obstacle blocking his own personal identity. Throughout this coming of age novel the narrator losses many battles, but in the end he finally wins. He ends as a visible advocate staying true to himself.

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