What is the importance of music in Invisible Man?

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M.P. Ossa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Ellison is such a fanatic of jazz music and literature that, according to his bio, when he read "The Waste Land" he became extremely impressed at how TS Elliot was able to use music as language within text.

So, Ellison did the same when he wrote Invisible Man. He would use jazz language, that is, jargon and description often found on jazz songs and music to bring out metaphores and similes and to expand his figurative language in a way that is comfortable for him as a lover of music and words.

Some of the similes you can find are in his descriptions of American symbols using phrases taken from jazz songs.

mkcapen1 | Student

The narrator in the book "The Invisible Man" is invisible which means that who is might be is not meant to be known. The author wrote the book to demonstrate the racism in America and how in some case it is visible but in other cases it is hidden away but is still present.

Ralph Ellison, the author of "The Invisible Man" enjoyed jazz. Like America jazz symbolizes a dynamic style of music that vibrates highs and lows. The struggle of blacks in America has been met with mixed blessings. Music has always been a strong component of the changes and experiences of African Americans. Music is the soul of many a culture and has been a strong influence in Ellison's life. He uses the music to make points an throughout his book:

"Ole Aunt Dinah, she's just like me
She work so hard she want to be free
But old Aunt Dinah's gittin' kinda ole
She's afraid to go to Canada on account of the cold."

Music is a historical documentation of the time and events in people's lives and Ellison uses it well to weave an understanding of the African American experience in America.

Read the study guide:
Invisible Man

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