Ralph Ellison and the Postcolonial Identity of Black Invisibility

University essay from Högskolan i Gävle/Avdelningen för humaniora

Author: Victoria Wendel; [2022]

Keywords: ;

Abstract: This thesis aims to analyse the postcolonial identity of black ‘invisibility’ in Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man (1952). It conceptualizes and explains the extended metaphor over the novel, of black identity and how black people are made invisible by historical and cultural factors. By adopting a critical, postcolonial perspective, the thesis relies on theories generated by postcolonial scholars. Drawing on concepts from Homi K. Bhabha, Edward Said, Frantz Fanon and others, themes such as identity, hybridity, ‘otherness’ and mask-wearing will be applied to Ellison’s Invisible Man. The goal is to explain some of the conditions that the narrator is made to experience and how Ellison presents these. I conclude by viewing the narrator’s blackness through the lens of otherness and the colonial mind, identifying the world’s indifferent apathy towards him as an outcome of his difference from the racial norm. Keywords: hybrid, hybridity, identity, diaspora, postcolonial criticism, Bhabha, Said, Fanon, blackness, invisibility, mask-wearing, other, otherness, subaltern, slavery, colonies, cultural hybridity, racial theory 

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