Ralph Ellison Short Fiction Analysis
Because most of Ralph Ellison’s short fiction was written before his career as a novelist began, his short stories are often analyzed biographically, as the training ground for the novelist he was to become. This is not entirely unjustified because a biographical overview of his literary output reveals that he tried out the voices, techniques, and ideas that he was to present so boldly in Invisible Man and almost completely abandoned the form after his success as a novelist, devoting himself to his essays and to his never-to-be-completed second novel.
It is true that in his two most accomplished stories, “The King of the Bingo Game” and “Flying Home,” he develops themes of the chaos of the modern world and the affliction of racial conflict that would later be combined and expanded in his famous novel. On the other hand, his earlier stories show him working out many of the same ideas from different perspectives. While the voice that informs his most accomplished work is a mature voice that is uniquely Ellison’s own, the voices in his other stories show more clearly the influences of Ernest Hemingway, Richard Wright, and James Joyce.
In relating his short fiction to his overall work, Edith Schor in Visible Ellison: A Study of Ralph Ellison’s Fiction (1993) has aptly observed that Ellison’s short stories provided experimental laboratories for testing the translation of the forms and experiences of African...
(The entire section is 1801 words.)
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