Parables and Legends in Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man

Image found here. Ralph Ellison wrote Invisible Man, a novel that refined the shape of American literature. This novel reflects America’s racial divide in the late 1940’s and early 1950’s through an anonymous black man’s journey (the narrator). Ellison uses an array of themes, motifs and symbols to get his message across. Throughout Invisible Man, Ellison also incorporates many parables and legends, important to the ultimate message. I would define parables as stories that teach a lesson and legends as how stories came to be. Below are a few examples of each. Example of Legends Story Behind the Narrator The narrator’s frame of mind and how he thinks he is what he was taught and raised to think, through his grandfather and his ideologies about the white man. The advice given by his grandfather is to fight back as hard as he can against people against blacks, even when he is gone he wants his grandson to keep fighting.(Ellison 16) “Let ’em swoller you till they vomit or bust wide open” “The narrator’s difficulty in leaving his past behind resonates throughout his story, from the recurring voice and image of his grandfather to the physical reminders of his past that he carries with him throughout the novel.” (Dykema-VanderArk) Jim Trueblood’s Story Trueblood tells his personal story to Mr. Norton and the narrator about his sexual encounter with his daughter. The narrator is disgusted with the incest, but since Mr. Norton (the white Trustee the narrator is watching over) is so interested the narrator has no choice. Trueblood later explains to the men how he was treated after the incident. He expressed...
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