3 Aug 2022


How small details play a crucial role in creating a truly riveting plot in "Invisible Man"

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Academic level: College

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Considering Ralph Ellison’s “Invisible Man”, it becomes apparent that the author draws particular attention to many tiny things that may seem of small importance for the story’s immediate context; however, despite having the signs of being a trifle, such things as, for instance, the yams do play crucial role in creating a truly riveting plot. Throughout the story, the narrator finds himself inhaling the fragrance of the baked yams in the street, and one cannot but encounter the fact that the delicious aroma comes to directly remind him of sweet childhood memories. Significantly, the narrator decides to buy a yam, which actually contributes to him growing torpid. The point is that tasting the yam makes him think of the past. Yes, the role of the yams should not be underestimated due to the fact that they symbolize the relationship between the things left behind and the ongoing present. In particular, the yams help readers conclude that the narrator continues to have a sense of a strong national identity even though sometimes he honestly feels ashamed to look southern and discovers “...the advantages of being invisible.” (Ellison, 1995, p. 5) On the whole, the yams serve as an indicator to understand that the protagonist’s race gives him somewhere to belong. 

Moving through Ellison’s novel “Invisible Man”, one cannot help but become aware the unwillingness to recognize that black people should have equal rights is likely to contribute to them becoming “...the most irresponsible beings that ever lived.” (Ellison, 1995, p. 14) As the story progresses, one can see that race and poverty are indisputably significant themes. Moreover, it is important to admit that these two elements imply invisibility. The protagonist’s excursus into the absurdities of white supremacy and the midst of the overwhelming physical poverty affected him in a way that he could hardly identify himself as a person doing some crucial social roles. The author alludes to that being a Negro means feeling the egregious lack of human rights and only making the ends meet; and this in turn results in becoming invisible as a human being. 

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In sum, “Invisible Man” by Ralph Ellison is indisputably worth reading due to addressing many challenging tasks that the society failed to cope with during one of the stages of its development. In any way, getting to know the author’s main idea requires thoroughly thinking over the minor details, which can actually provide the motivation for the protagonist. 


Ellison, R. (1995). Invisible Man. (2 nd ed.). New York, NY: Vintage Books/Random House. 

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StudyBounty. (2023, September 14). How small details play a crucial role in creating a truly riveting plot in "Invisible Man".


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