Betrayal In Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man

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Invisible Man, a 1950s novel written by Ralph Ellison, charmed the nation by sophisticatedly documenting the life of an African American. As a young, nameless man searches for his individual identity, a variety of men attempt to impede his journey. Because the man is young and inexperienced, powerful men can manipulate him like a Sambo doll without much effort. Each time authoritative men control the invisible man, he is blind to the deception and betrayal. As the man gains experience, events repeat without the man’s awareness; the battle royal, expulsion from college, and the Brotherhood’s shallowness parallel one another to demonstrate the themes of betrayal and the invisible man’s innocence. During the battle royal, the rough and tense…show more content…
You don’t exist” (Ellison, 143). As Dr. Bledsoe expels him, the president strips the man of his invisibility in the group identity and leaves him with an individual identity he does not understand (Moreland, 157). The man’s lack of identity and sophistication prevents him from standing up for himself, and Dr. Bledsoe harshly insults him without any interruptions. Furthermore, assuming that Dr. Bledsoe believes in social equality because he is African American, the young man displays his naiveté and lack of worldly experience. Despite his knowledge that white trustees support the black college, the black president of the college appalls the invisible man by not supporting black social progression and the thought that Dr. Bledsoe can betray his own race perplexes the man. Bledsoe suggests that he moves to New York and gives him seven letters of recommendation for employment. Immediately packing his briefcase with the letters of recommendation and his most prized possessions to travel, the man sees his move to New York as his “last attempt to become free” (Cuneo, 26). He cannot comprehend that Dr. Bledsoe only wants to remove the man from the college and destroy his chances of becoming a successful leader. Although the letters and the trip to Harlem are clear deception, the invisible man fails to recognize the betrayal due to his trusting and innocent

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