Essays on Invisible Man

Invisible Man
Original title Invisible Man
Author Ralph Ellison
Genre Bildungsroman ,
Language English
Characters the narrator, Brother Jack, Tod Clifton, Rinehart, Dr Bledsoe
Published April 14, 1952
ISBN 0-679-72479-4
Book Summary
Essay Examples

Table of Contents

About ‘Invisible Man’ Book

Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison is based on the social and intellectual problems confronted by the Africans in America. The novel was published back in 1952. It revolves around Black Nationalism, the identity of the Africans, and Marxist theory. The novel also reflects the racial policies devised by Booker T. Washington. It also deals with personal and distinct identity crises.

The novel was among the notable books to receive the National Book Award for Fiction in 1953. It is ranked on 19th number in the 100 Best English-language Novels of the 20th Century. Even Time Magazine gave it a strong reputation by including it in its 100 best English-language novels from 1923 to 2005. Under “the quintessential American picaresque of the 20th century,”

Book Summary:

Invisible Man Ralph Ellison is about the identity of an African who, despite having a physical form, is unseen to the world around him. In the intro of the novel, the narrator describes his figurative invisibility, which stems from his not being seen as a free-thinking individual but through racial expectations of him from others.

The anonymous narrator lives in a hole furnished by him, and he has stolen lights for lightning. While living there, he recounts his grandfather’s advice on living as a black man. During the rising action, the narrator is conned into participating in a bloody battle royal with other black students purely for the entertainment of the rich white class. The winner in the battle gets rewarded a scholarship to the all-black college. 

In his junior year, the narrator’s chauffeur, a wealthy trustee Mr. Norton ends up exposed to a disturbing incestuous black sharecropper and a brothel full of mentally unstable drunk war veterans. The narrator gets expelled from the school by the treacherous president Dr. Bledsoe; he gets a job at the liberty paints.

It is a factory that produces optic white paint for the government. At this point, the narrator finds himself working alongside Lucious Brockway, a black man who attacks him; he is injured in the factory blast and sent to the factory hospital. Where the doctors administer unnecessary shock treatment, which erases his memories, and then he is released, recovering at the home of a compassionate black woman named Marry Rambo.

Soon the narrator discovers his passion for public speaking, and he joins the Brotherhood (an organization created to protect the rights of the oppressed in different communities). After the Brotherhood brainwashes him, the narrator rises to become a leader of the organization’s Harlem division, but he encounters trouble in the form of Ross, the exhorter. He is a black nationalist who feuds with the Brotherhood. He sees blacks as the puppets for white members’ agendas.

The Brotherhood turns on to the narrator and reassigns him to the women’s division downtown. Still, he returns to Harlem because Brotherhood is floundering in the community, and Brotherhood Colleague Brother Todd Clifton is missing.

During the climax, the narrator discovers Todd Clifton selling racist dots. The police arrive, and the officer shoots and kills Clifton. The narrator arranges Clifton’s funeral on his own. and gives a fiery speech rendering Clifton visible in canonizing him as an individual.

During the falling action, the narrator grows disillusioned with the Brotherhood and their ideals and determines to destroy the organization from the inside; the narrator seeks information that he can use against them. He unwittingly plays right into the Brotherhood’s plans to turn power over to Ross, the exhorter who incites brutal race riots across Harlem. This way, the Brotherhood could destroy the black community by leading the community to destroy itself.

As the narrator rushes to Harlem, he is confronted by Ross, who demands that the traitor should be lynched. Racing through the erupting violence, the narrator leads to an uncovered manhole hole. During the resolution, the narrator hibernates underground, but he confesses that it is his time to rejoin the surface world again.

Invisible Man Characters:

The following are the central characters in The Invisible Man:

      The Narrator

The anonymous narrator is a young light-skinned black man. He becomes disillusioned in his journey to create a unique identity for himself within a racist society built with racist expectations. In the novel, he feels invisible because everyone sees him based on their expectations of a black man and not as the unique individual he desires to be.

He fulfills his grandfather’s prediction that he will act treacherously against his people. Ultimately, he looks all set and ready to face his society.

      Dr. Bledsoe

He is the president of the college the narrator attends and idolizes everything about him. And he blindly follows that white is right. Bledsoe believes in this philosophy because he thinks it will earn him prestige. But after he expels the narrator from the college, the narrator realizes that Dr. Bledsoe acts subservient to the white supremacists, so he earns a position of power.

      Mr. Norton

He is a wealthy white trustee who spends his life making large donations to the black college where the narrator attends. He is only interested in creating a philanthropic legacy that suggests he is concerned with racial equality, but he doesn’t care about the real struggles of the Africans.

      Jim Trueblood

He represents the back savage stereotype of the uneducated southern black man. He gains infamy in the narrator’s college town for his incestuous relations with his daughter and happens to impregnate her while he has a dream. He has learned to exploit his story to his family’s financial advantage.

      Marry Rambo

Her character represents the strength of the black community. She takes the narrator in after he is released from the hospital. She takes care of him, feeds him, and when he is not in the position to pay the rent, she allows him free stay, hoping he will become a strong leader one day. The narrator is grateful for her generosity but resents her expectations from him.

      Ross the Exhorter

He is a violent black separatist; later in the novel, he becomes a destroyer. He preaches to all black people to quit working for white men and refuses to shop in white-owned stores or hold civil conversations with white people. He calls for the narrator’s lynching.

      Brother Jack

He is the white leader of the Brotherhood in Harlem. However, the Brotherhood is built on the plan to improve the lives of society. But, it is a corrupt system exploited by Jack and his cohorts. He employs the narrator in his firm but later uses him as a tool to advance his motives. He does not want to improve the people’s lives and abandons them at the novel’s end.

Invisible Man Quotes:

The following are some notable quotations from the Invisible Man book:

  •     “When I discover who I am, I’ll be free.”
  •     “The world is a possibility if only you’ll discover it.”
  •     “I am invisible, understand, simply because people refuse to see me. Like the bodiless heads you sometimes see in circus sideshows, it is as though mirrors of hard, distorting glass have surrounded me. When they approach me, they see only my surroundings, themselves or figments of their imagination, indeed, everything and anything except me.”
  •     “Power doesn’t have to show off. Power is confident, self-assuring, self-starting and self-stopping, self-warming and self-justifying. When you have it, you know it.”
  •     “I do not know if all cops are poets, but I know that all cops carry guns with triggers.”

Essay Structure on Invisible Man:

The essay is the shortest piece of writing with three major parts: the introduction, body, and conclusion. They are discussed in detail under the following heading:


The first part of the essay is its introduction, where you allow the reader to learn about your essay’s topic and thesis statement. Adding a hook to grasp the reader’s attention in the introduction is great. After the hook, the thesis statement is introduced, where the reader learns about your stance and approach to the topic.


The essay’s body is the part where you will elaborate your problem statement by supplying supporting details, evidence, facts, figures, quotations, and scholar’s comments or a critique. It is noteworthy to discuss that the body of the essay is written in the form of paragraphs. There is no heading for any paragraph. Each paragraph addresses a single topic. And it must have a topic sentence and supporting details. Using Linking words and transitional devices is amazing to create a logical sequence in the paragraphs.


In conclusion, you need to provide a summary and restate the thesis statement so that the readers find it easy to recall the points discussed in the entire essay. Repeating the thesis statement will supplement the reader with further clarity.

6 Tips to Consider While Writing An essay about ‘Invisible Man

To write an effective essay, you must consider the following tips:

Read The Book Thoroughly

It is very important to read the text deeply to clarify your concepts. Without reading the text, you will not be confident in justifying your standpoint in the essay because you need to provide textual evidence to prove your point.

Find a Compelling Topic

A compelling topic has the potential to catch the reader’s attention. It should bring to attention the problem the readers face and provide them with the solution to the problem. A powerful essay has a thesis statement that is narrowed down to eliminate confusion for the writer and the reader, focusing their attention on the essay’s main points.

Create The Outline

An essay’s outline builds a foundation for your essay. It acts like a blueprint and enables you to frame your essay in a well-organized way. The ideas are arranged in a proper sequence. The ideas are logically connected. Normally brainstorming and clustering are the effective techniques followed to create an outline of the essay.

Write The Thesis Statement

The thesis statement, also called a problem statement, is the main point around which the entire essay revolves. It tells the reader what you want to discuss. It shows your standpoint on the topic.

Include A Lesson Or Moral

Adding a moral lesson allows the readers to think about themselves and measure how morally upright they are. Morals or lessons give the reader room for finding their flaws, improving their lives, and becoming better people for society.  

Conclusion: Proofread Your Work

After finishing off the essay is very important to proofread your draft repeatedly to eliminate typos and ungrammatical sentences and improve clarity. It will polish and improve the overall quality of your essay. If like most other students, you find essay writing a tough job, you can contact us, and we will compose the best quality essay for you before the deadline!

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Invisible Man Based On A True Story?

Invisible man is a fictional story about the American Africans, and the story somehow reflects key themes of disillusionment which was the result of post-world War I or reference to the veterans who lost their sanity and were drunk.

What Is The Story Behind The Invisible Man?

The real story behind the invisible man is that the narrator feels he is invisible in a society where the races are separated deep. Due to this, he does not feel like a misfit but is completely invisible.

What Is The Moral Lesson Of The Invisible Man?

The novel explores that multiple races with their philosophies tend to create confusion. Moreover, it highlights the process of finding and overcoming disillusionment to reach the ultimate truth.

What Does The Invisible Man Tell About Racism?

In the novel, Ralph Ellison tries to enlighten the readers about social issues, racism, and how it leads to identity crises (loss of identity).

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FAQ about Invisible Man

Who is the Brotherhood in Invisible Man?
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