Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison

From plot debriefs to key motifs, Thug Notes’ Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison Summary & Analysis has you covered with themes, symbols, important quotes, and more.

Invisible Man (1952) | Written by: Ralph Ellison | Published by: Random House

Invisible Man
Thug Notes Summary and Analysis

What’s the deal, yo? This week we keepin it on the DL with Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison.

Now when the narrator of dis book starts off sayin he invisible, it
ain’t cuz he got super powers. It’s cuz whenever people look at him, they only see “their surroundings, themselves, and their imagination.”

So this cat start reminiscing about back in the day when his young self got “the honor” of making speech in front of some white folk. But before he do, The Invisible Man gotta throw down with some bruthas and make a damn fool of himself as entertainment. When it’s all said and done, these crazy crackas throw him some change for his education.

In college, the narrator gotta drive around a rich honkie named Norton. But after showin him how black folk really live, the Invisible Man gets expelled and ends up grindin at a factory in New York.

S’all good til one day sh** goes hyphy at work and the narrator blacks the fu** out. The Invisible Man hits the streets of Harlem where he shacks up with some soul-sistah named Mary, who heals his wounds and learns him good on his black heritage.

After the Invisible Man heal up, some fools called the Brotherhood axe if he wanna join an organization to help the oppressed. The price- he kiss his name and his past goodbye.

When Clifton, one of his brotherhood boys, disappears, our boy goes looking for him but soon after see him get capped by the 5- O. Rodney King preach! So the narrator pours one out for Clifton during his funeral, but the Brotherhood start tweakin about him doin it without their say-so.

Sh** gets real when some thug named Ras The Destroyer sparks a riot up in Harlem. This fool throws a god damn spear at the invisible man, but our boy ducks it, picks it back up, and slangs it right in his grill. Then Inveezy fall in to a sewer hole where the po-lice trap him. And he been chillin underground ever since. Throughout this novel, Invisible Man’s main game is finding a true identity in a world full of phonies tryin to tell him who he be. Whether it’s Emerson, Norton, or Jack from the Brotherhood:

“They were very much the same, each attempting to force his picture of reality upon me and neither giving a hoot in hell for how things looked to me. I was simply a material, a natural resource to be used.”

But only by defining himself can the invisible man really break dem chains and be free.

So our boy try to find a gang of other playas who fightin the same power. But even the Brotherhood schemin to use the narrator for they own purposes. They say they a gang of liberators, but on the real, they really just a bunch of oppressors. The Invisible Man trying to find out who he is, but these haters playin it raw and tell him to forget his name and past.

But how’s a brotha gonna cope with all these haters rollin fake? Homie gotta look at life with a new sense of awareness.

Even though Invisible Man dealing with some real street sh**, he learns to look at life through through a COMIC FRAME. Like his grandpappi say: “laugh to keep from crying.”

Every single time this thug try to change his life in order to stop being run, it ends up so far from what he intended that it seems straight up absurd. For example, his speech at the beginning don’t give him no respect, but it does give him a mouth full of blood.

When its all said and done, the Invisible Man finally gets exactly what he chasin. Wading through all dat absurd bullsh** helps him find out who he truly is. Like my main man Albert Camus once said:

In the end, our boy throws all these fake haters to the wind, and say he don’t need them to find his own identity. So he buries himself underground, picks up a pen, and defines himself through spittin his story. That’s some heroic sh** right thurr.

So define yo-self by pickin up some of my swag. Tune in next week and get you ass educated. Later!

More Videos

The Glass Menagerie <br />by Tennessee Williams

The Glass Menagerie
by Tennessee Williams

Emma <br />by Jane Austen

Emma
by Jane Austen

IT <br />by Stephen King

IT
by Stephen King

Best Mo’ Money, Mo’ Problems Stories in Lit

Best Mo’ Money, Mo’ Problems Stories in Lit

Ready Player One <br />by Ernest Cline

Ready Player One
by Ernest Cline

Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde <br />by Robert Louis Stevenson

Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde
by Robert Louis Stevenson

Dr. Seuss’s Horton Hears A Who! <br />by Maurice Sendak

Dr. Seuss’s Horton Hears A Who!
by Maurice Sendak

Where the Wild Things Are <br />by Maurice Sendak

Where the Wild Things Are
by Maurice Sendak

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest <br />by Ken Kesey

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
by Ken Kesey

The Merchant of Venice <br />by William Shakespeare

The Merchant of Venice
by William Shakespeare

The Trial <br />by Franz Kafka

The Trial
by Franz Kafka

Madame Bovary <br />by Gustave Flaubert

Madame Bovary
by Gustave Flaubert

The Epic of Gilgamesh

The Epic of Gilgamesh

The Fall of the House of Usher <br />by Edgar Allan Poe

The Fall of the House of Usher
by Edgar Allan Poe

A Wrinkle in Time <br />by Madeleine L’Engle

A Wrinkle in Time
by Madeleine L’Engle

Fight Club <br />by Chuck Palahniuk

Fight Club
by Chuck Palahniuk

The Cask of Amontillado <br />by Edgar Allan Poe

The Cask of Amontillado
by Edgar Allan Poe

American Psycho <br />by Bret Easton Ellis

American Psycho
by Bret Easton Ellis

The Fountainhead <br />by Ayn Rand

The Fountainhead
by Ayn Rand

Where the Red Fern Grows <br />by Wilson Rawls

Where the Red Fern Grows
by Wilson Rawls

Life of Pi <br />by Yann Martel

Life of Pi
by Yann Martel

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy <br />by Douglas Adams

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
by Douglas Adams

Les Misérables <br />by Victor Hugo

Les Misérables
by Victor Hugo

No Country for Old Men <br />by Cormac McCarthy

No Country for Old Men
by Cormac McCarthy

The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe <br />by C.S. Lewis

The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe
by C.S. Lewis

Don Quixote <br />by Miguel de Cervantes

Don Quixote
by Miguel de Cervantes

V for Vendetta <br />by Alan Moore

V for Vendetta
by Alan Moore

The Fellowship of the Ring <br />by J. R. R. Tolkein

The Fellowship of the Ring
by J. R. R. Tolkein

Ender’s Game <br />by Orson Scott Card

Ender’s Game
by Orson Scott Card

Doctor Faustus <br />by Christopher Marlowe

Doctor Faustus
by Christopher Marlowe

Go Set A Watchman <br />by Harper Lee

Go Set A Watchman
by Harper Lee

The Outsiders <br />by S.E. Hinton

The Outsiders
by S.E. Hinton

The Goldfinch <br />by Donna Tartt

The Goldfinch
by Donna Tartt

A Midsummer Night’s Dream <br />by William Shakespeare

A Midsummer Night’s Dream
by William Shakespeare

A Game of Thrones <br />by George R. R. Martin

A Game of Thrones
by George R. R. Martin

King Lear by William Shakespeare

King Lear by William Shakespeare

Watchmen by Alan Moore

Watchmen by Alan Moore

The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss

The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss

Gone Girl <br> written by Gillian Flynn

Gone Girl
written by Gillian Flynn

The Handmaid’s Tale<br>by Margaret Atwood

The Handmaid’s Tale
by Margaret Atwood

Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse

Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse

Alice in Wonderland<br>by Lewis Carroll

Alice in Wonderland
by Lewis Carroll

Fifty Shades of Grey <br> by E.L. James

Fifty Shades of Grey
by E.L. James

The Tell-Tale Heart <br>by Edgar Allan Poe

The Tell-Tale Heart
by Edgar Allan Poe

The Color Purple <br> by Alice Walker

The Color Purple
by Alice Walker

Beloved by Toni Morrison

Beloved by Toni Morrison

A Raisin in the Sun <br> by Lorraine Hansberry

A Raisin in the Sun
by Lorraine Hansberry

A Tale of Two Cities <br> by Charles Dickens

A Tale of Two Cities
by Charles Dickens

The Raven <br> by Edgar Allan Poe

The Raven
by Edgar Allan Poe

A Christmas Carol <br> by Charles Dickens

A Christmas Carol
by Charles Dickens

Othello <br> by William Shakespeare

Othello
by William Shakespeare

Death of a Salesman <br> by Arthur Miller

Death of a Salesman
by Arthur Miller

A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess

A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess

Julius Caesar by Shakespeare

Julius Caesar by Shakespeare

Dracula by Bram Stoker

Dracula by Bram Stoker

One Hundred Years of Solitude <br> by Gabriel García Márquez

One Hundred Years of Solitude
by Gabriel García Márquez

The Metamorphosis <br> by Franz Kafka

The Metamorphosis
by Franz Kafka

The Hunger Games<br>by Suzanne Collins

The Hunger Games
by Suzanne Collins

The Giver by Lois Lowry

The Giver by Lois Lowry

At The Mountains of Madness<br>by H. P. Lovecraft

At The Mountains of Madness
by H. P. Lovecraft

Dune by Frank Herbert

Dune by Frank Herbert

The Dark Knight / The Grand Inquisitor – Special Episode

The Dark Knight / The Grand Inquisitor – Special Episode

The Brothers Karamazov <br> by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

The Brothers Karamazov
by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

The Grapes of Wrath<br>by John Steinbeck

The Grapes of Wrath
by John Steinbeck

The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas

The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas

The Old Man and the Sea<br>by Ernest Hemingway

The Old Man and the Sea
by Ernest Hemingway

The Stranger by Albert Camus

The Stranger by Albert Camus

A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce

A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce

The Sound and the Fury<br>by William Faulkner

The Sound and the Fury
by William Faulkner

Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

Ethan Frome <br> by Edith Wharton

Ethan Frome
by Edith Wharton

Catch-22 by Joseph Heller

Catch-22 by Joseph Heller

Grendel by John Gardner

Grendel by John Gardner

Things Fall Apart<br>by Chinua Achebe

Things Fall Apart
by Chinua Achebe

Slaughterhouse-Five<br>by Kurt Vonnegut

Slaughterhouse-Five
by Kurt Vonnegut

A Separate Peace <br> by John Knowles

A Separate Peace
by John Knowles

Oedipus The King by Sophocles

Oedipus The King by Sophocles

All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque

All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque

Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

The Picture of Dorian Gray <br> by Oscar Wilde

The Picture of Dorian Gray
by Oscar Wilde

Wuthering Heights<br>by Emily Brontë

Wuthering Heights
by Emily Brontë

Romeo and Juliet <br> by William Shakespeare

Romeo and Juliet
by William Shakespeare

Notes from Underground<br>by Fyodor Dostoevsky

Notes from Underground
by Fyodor Dostoevsky

Invisible Man <br> by Ralph Ellison

Invisible Man
by Ralph Ellison

The Sun Also Rises<br>by Ernest Hemingway

The Sun Also Rises
by Ernest Hemingway

The Crucible by Arthur Miller

The Crucible by Arthur Miller

Dante’s Inferno

Dante’s Inferno

Macbeth by William Shakespeare

Macbeth by William Shakespeare

Heart of Darkness <br> by Joseph Conrad

Heart of Darkness
by Joseph Conrad

Frankenstein <br> by Mary Shelley

Frankenstein
by Mary Shelley

The Scarlet Letter<br>by Nathaniel Hawthorne

The Scarlet Letter
by Nathaniel Hawthorne

Homer’s Odyssey

Homer’s Odyssey

Moby Dick by Herman Melville

Moby Dick by Herman Melville

Animal Farm <br> by George Orwell

Animal Farm
by George Orwell

Beowulf

Beowulf

Brave New World <br> by Aldous Huxley

Brave New World
by Aldous Huxley

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien

The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien

Hamlet <br> by William Shakespeare

Hamlet
by William Shakespeare

Jane Eyre <br> by Charlotte Brontë

Jane Eyre
by Charlotte Brontë

The Catcher in the Rye<br> by J.D. Salinger

The Catcher in the Rye
by J.D. Salinger

Great Expectations <br> by Charles Dickens

Great Expectations
by Charles Dickens

Lord of the Flies<br>by William Golding

Lord of the Flies
by William Golding

Pride and Prejudice <br> by Jane Austen

Pride and Prejudice
by Jane Austen

1984 (Nineteen Eighty-Four)<br> by George Orwell

1984 (Nineteen Eighty-Four)
by George Orwell

To Kill a Mockingbird <br> By Harper Lee

To Kill a Mockingbird
By Harper Lee

The Great Gatsby <br> by F. Scott Fitzgerald

The Great Gatsby
by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Crime and Punishment<br> by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Crime and Punishment
by Fyodor Dostoyevsky