Explain Why The “Invisible Man” By Ralph Ellison Should Stay In The Literary Canon
The term “literary canon” has been given various definitions for many generations that have passed. Literary skills, value, and influence are probably the most used criteria to measure a work in order to be considered as part of it. The Invisible Man, as written by Ralph Ellison in 1952, comes into the picture with two major factors that stirs concern even on today’s readers and authors: one’s own identity and race. In this modern age, the reality that social and cultural conditions are still different in particular places is undeniable. This is where it comes to the point that some works may have retained their value or prestige, while some have, unfortunately, lost theirs and may have gone from appreciated to unappreciated and no longer recognized when it comes with their significance in today’s literature (Zhang, 2016).
The nameless protagonist in Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man was able to identify what seems to be difficult to understand by people even in his time. At first, he may have tried to find a way to further understand and express the complexity of human identity, but then, due to the circumstances that he had to experience given his race, he ended up creating a number of masks based on what the others envision him to be.
Humans are known to be different at every level –they have their own way of thinking, beliefs, opinion, and desires. But then, throughout the entire narration of the protagonist, the more that he tried to be truly seen and noticed by the others, he had no other ways but to adapt to everyone and everything around him. He ended up losing the ability to make his own choices and is subjected to the choices of the others (Freire, 2005).
The Invisible Man should always be a part of the literary canon. It has and will always be an important and influential narration that would touch even the minds and hearts of today’s generation with regards to the understanding of human identity and race. As the former is something as complex as it sounds, the latter, on the other hand, is something that even this generation should be mindful of and respectful about since this is somehow the root of inequality.
Zhang, Longxi. “Canon and World Literature.” Journal of World Literature, vol. 1, no. 1, 01 Jan. 2016, https://doi.org/10.1163/24056480-00101012. Accessed 19 January 2020.
Freire, Paulo. “Society in Transition.” Education for Critical Consciousness, 2005. http://abahlali.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/Paulo-Freire-Education-for-Critical-Consciousness-Continuum-Impacts-2005.pdf, Accessed 19 January 2020.
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