Ralph Ellison’s INVISIBLE MAN is a vivid political novel examining the difficulties of black identity in a societal context of disenfranchisement, progressive political action, and social dependency.
A highly relevant novel for the 21st century, INVISIBLE MAN is also an episodic exploration of the politics of identity (concerning race), but it does not present a happy ending where “Jim” is set free. Instead, the nameless narrator of Ellison’s novel remains unresolved in his reflections on his place in America, having tried and failed to construct a functional identity.
Why does he fail? The question is a productive one for students working to develop a sense of identity, of possibilities, and expectations of their own.
This study guide includes notes on the historical context of the novel, a brief essay on the central thematic ideas of the text, notes on symbols and symbolism, a Reading Check Quiz, and a set of study questions for discussion and/or writing prompts.
Answer key/guide included for Reading Check Quiz and Study Questions.
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