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What is the main idea/theme of "Invisible Man" by Ellison?

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retta | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted January 20, 2009 at 10:25 AM via web

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What is the main idea/theme of "Invisible Man" by Ellison?

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kwoo1213 | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator

Posted January 21, 2009 at 4:47 AM (Answer #1)

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This is a very difficult question because there are many themes.  However, all of them are related to one prominent theme:  identity and individuality...finding oneself and learning who one is through self-discovery and through the experiences one goes through in life.  The narrator does not have an identity at the beginning and through the horrific and trying experiences he goes through, he learns more and more about who he really is and he becomes "visible" instead of "invisible":

The invisible man's moment of self-recognition occurs almost simultaneously with his realization that the white world does not see him, but Ellison seems to be saying, ‘‘Well, don't worry about that.’’ Until the invisible man can see himself, he can only be passive, ‘‘outside of history.’’ (eNotes)

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