Use Of Presentation Of The Self In Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man

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What They Want To See The key theme in Ralph Ellison’s “Invisible Man” is the idea of the unnamed character not being able to find his identity because society will not allow him to see be himself but rather force him to act and behave in the ways that they see fit. This story is one that relates to all people of color and therefore the journey that the narrator goes through is a call for people of color to throw away all the mask and performances in order to be seen and not be invisible anymore. This paper will use Goffman’s “The presentation of the self in everyday life” in order to better understand mask and performances and how Ellison’s unnamed character learns to throw them away. Performances and mask are important to people of color because they constantly have to decide whether to they will submerge fully into a performance in order to please those in power or to escape it through embracing their true self in order to become…show more content…
This is especially the case for what the unnamed character’s father advocated for his family to do in “Invisible Man”. Goffman describes how one can approach a performance in the “Presentation of the Self” as “An individual may be taken in by his own act or be cynical about it” (Goffman p. 19). By being “cynical about it” a person may not be aware of the performance they are putting on, they may be so devoted to the performance that they have forgotten and have begun to really believe their own act. Although the unmade character’s grandfather advocated for them to fully submerge themselves in the performance, he was not advising them to be cynical about it. He tells them he has “been a spy” this confirms that he was aware of his performance and his mission. In the eyes of the grandfather this is the only way he can make sure that his family can live safe and

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