Philosophy 336: Existentialism jayme johnson Study Guide for Invisible Man: the prologue, and chapters 1-5. A historical grounding for the novel from Wikipedia: When published in 1952, Invisible Man revealed a new way of looking at racial tensions within America, one that was unapologetic of its racial stand and unconvinced that racial equality was emerging. The novel left a lasting effect on society, as seen in its traces from the Harlem Renaissance to the follow-up Black Arts Movement. The Harlem Renaissance sought to uplift the black race by offering numerous examples of greatness in art and literature to the masses of America. Its primary goal was achieving social acceptance by building black unity, grounded in expertise of sophisticated arts and literature. Though Ralph Ellison is seen as a Harlem Renaissance writer by many, the themes from Invisible Man break away from the movement's major themes of social acceptance and hope for the future. Invisible Man suggests that a solution to race relations may not be as near as we think. On the same note, Invisible Man cannot entirely be viewed as black arts movement literature as its ideas about race aren't as militant and extreme as those of the 1960s and 70s black arts movement. Because of this, Invisible Man is often seen as a transition between the two. Major events: His declaration of invisibility The pride of his high school graduation speech (which. ironically, is about the necessity of humility). The shame of the Battle Royal mixed with the pride of the scholarship he earned after being humiliated. His charge over the Trustee and the Mayhem that ensues: • the conversation in the car with the Trustee about how IM’s fate is tied to the Trustee’s fate. • the run in with Jim Trueblood, and IM’s reaction to the situation • the ordeal with the crazy vets and prostitutes at the Golden Day His reaction to the sermon given by Reverend Barbee. One major thing we notice is IM’s sensitivity to how a given situation is going to affect him. He often feels to blame, and responsible in situations where it seems like his only fault is happening to have been there. We also see how very important the views of others are to him in validating his own worth, and perhaps his own existence. In short, IM seems to have made himself into a completely pliable person, gaining his sense of self-worth and existential validation from his ability to please/satisfy others.
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