Ralph Ellison Discussion Topics

Discussion Topics

(Masterpieces of American Literature)

Consider the role of racial stereotypes in Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man. How does the border between the narrator’s self-perception and how others view him relate to the theme of blindness and invisibility within the text?

What does the narrator’s briefcase in Invisible Man symbolize within the text?

Some critics argue that Juneteenth can be viewed as a continuation of the themes outlined in Invisible Man. Where do you see the two novels merging and diverging in how one searches and views his or her identity?

What is the relationship between individual and community identity? How do the two conflict in Juneteenth and merge in Invisible Man?

Ellison was born and raised in Oklahoma. What is the role of this space, this community, in telling the stories of Senator Bliss and Reverend Hickman in Juneteenth? How might the moments of the character’s stories that take place in Oklahoma relate to Ellison’s childhood and adulthood?

Why is it significant that the senator in Juneteenth calls out for Reverend Hickman when he is on his deathbed? What sort of literary devices is Ellison utilizing within this scene in the senate meeting?