Ralph Ellison's Sybil, This Is Not Who I Am

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Chris Shea ENG 398 Professor Aimee Pozorski 10/28/15 Sybil, This is Not Who I Am. In chapter 24 of Ralph Ellison’s 1952 novel Invisible Man, Invisible Man meets a woman named Sybil and has a drunken sexual encounter with her at her home, or so one would believe if one simply reads the surface of the novel. However, a closer reading would suggest that Sybil actually isn’t in love with him. Rather, she is actually using him for her own sexual gain. Reading this chapter in such a way, one would be able to see that Invisible Man is not having as pleasant or as enjoyable of an evening with Sybil as she is having with him. Initially, Invisible Man is having a pleasant and enjoyable evening with Sybil. She is telling Invisible Man of her life and he is offering emotional support for her (although sometimes in the form of physical support). But then something happens. She say this to Invisible Man: “‘Lie back and let me look at you against that white sheet. You’re beautiful, I’ve always thought…show more content…
Invisible Man ultimately ends up drunkenly writing “SYBIL, YOU WERE RAPED BY SANTA CLAUS SURPRISE” (522). ‘But what’s wrong with Santa Claus?’ one would ask after simply reading the surface of the novel. But after a closer reading, one would believe there is something very wrong in this case. Santa Claus is almost always portrayed as being white with blue eyes (although there are the very rare portrayals of a non-white Santa Claus). And this creates a conflict of interest since Invisible Man is black. This could mean that Sybil would feel less shameful to be in bed with Invisible Man later on if he was white, like Santa Claus. Or perhaps she believes people of African descent are incapable of being like Santa Claus and Invisible Man has no choice but to adhere to this strange belief, making him essentially have to put on a white mask to accommodate her beliefs and her mindset (Bledsoe,

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