What is the importance of music in Invisible Man?

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In Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man, the author explores stereotypes and prejudices in America from the early to mid-twentieth century. This novel of self-discovery presents an unnamed black man serving as a narrator. He seeks to learn where he fits into contemporary society while searching for the American dream. From the outset of the novel, the narrator tells the reader:

“I am an invisible man . . . I am invisible . . . simply because people refuse to see me.”

The narrator recognizes that he exists in a subservient role from which he must escape if he is ever to understand what it means to be a black man in America. He knows there are obstacles in his way that he must overcome. As the protagonist begins his quest, Ellison cleverly uses metaphorical musical references to parallel the black struggle for individuality and against racism in America with certain music genres.

For example, jazz is a musical style developed largely from blues and primarily by African-American musicians. One of the...

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