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English III – AP Barclay Reading guide: Ellison, Invisible Man Invisible Man, in his search for identity, moves from PURPOSE to PASSION to PERCEPTION. Thematic Ideas – Consider how each of these relates to the search for identity: 1. Racial identity 2. “visibility” 3. Blindness (illusions, appearances, masks) vs. Truth 4. Rites of passage – stages passed through to enlightenment 5. Significance of the past (past events continually influence the present) 6. Individual vs. Community 7. Invisible Man as myth and epic (see a list of characteristics of the epic form if necessary) 8. The Illusion of the American Dream Guide to Active Reading – Ellison’s Invisible Man This assignment is designed to guide you to an understanding of the sub-thematic and thematic levels of this novel. Write a response for each item below integrating short, pithy quotations to support your response. Cite your evidence in MLA format. Your responses should be 2 or three sentences. Example response: “Ellison uses the motif of dolls and puppets to illustrate the manipulation characters in the novel experience. During the Battle Royal, the dancer is described as a “circus kewpie doll” (19) and Tod Clifton’s Sambo dolls reveal the powerlessness of certain minority groups. Invisible Man eventually realizes that some groups are disenfranchised, that they are invisible, but initially believes that “only in the Brotherhood could we make ourselves known, could we avoid being empty Sambo dolls” (434). Only after his illusion of the Brotherhood is shattered does he realize that he, too, has been a puppet of their agenda. This assignment is to be done independently, without consulting any other person, book, or source. Prologue 1. How does Ellison use Monopolated Light and Power to achieve his purpose? Chapter 5 2. How does Ellison use the stories of Bledsoe and the Founder to achieve his purpose? Chapter 6 3. How does Ellison use the seven letters (in this chapter and those which follow) to achieve his purpose? Chapter 9 4. How does Ellison use The Poor Robin Song and allusions to Huck Finn to achieve his purpose? Chapter 10 5. How does Ellison use Liberty Paints and the phrase “The machine inside the machine” to achieve his purpose? Chapter 11 6. How does Ellison use the incident with shock therapy, to achieve his purpose? Chapter 13 7. Analyze the passage beginning “He leaned forward, watching me intensely…” and ending “I looked as the white paper in his extended hand.” How does Ellison use elements of language to express a shift in Invisible Man’s identify? Chapter 14 8. Invisible Man seems to find his purpose in this chapter, but we soon find he is still pursuing an illusion. How does Ellison use diction, allusions, and figurative language to reveal Invisible Man’s new perception of himself? Chapter 21 9. Analyze Invisible Man’s speech at the funeral. How does he use anaphora, repetition, metaphor, and other elements of language to achieve his purpose? Chapter 23 10. Analyze the passage beginning “Well, I was and yet I was invisible…” and ending “until it exploded in their faces.” How does Ellison use elements of language to convey Invisible Man’s epiphany? Chapter 25 11. How does Ellison use the image of his grandfather’s dream and the briefcase throughout the text (cite at least 3 chapters) to achieve his purpose? Epilogue 12. Analyze the passage beginning “Perhaps that makes me…” and ending “I speak for you...” How does Ellison use diction, figurative language, and allusions to achieve his purpose? What should I annotate as I read? As you read the novel you will encounter significant characters who affect the protagonist in some way. For your own studying purposes, make a running list of these characters; for each, in at least one complete sentence, tell what the protagonist learns from his experience with this character. Note that important characters may be spoken of as well as directly encountered by the protagonist. This list will prove invaluable when you are reviewing for the test. See list below. Trace these motifs and images: blindness; electricity; death/ rebirth; chains, slavery, Jim Crow laws; dolls, puppets Character List: Keep track of these in your notes. You will not turn these notes in to me, but they will be critical for your test preparation. 1. The Founder 2. Mr. Norton 3. Jim Trueblood 4. Dr. Bledsoe 5. Emerson 6. Homer A. Barbee 7. Raz the Destroyer 8. Mary Rambo 9. Emma 10. Brother Jack 11. Brother Hambro 12. Brother with a pipe 13. Brother Tod Clifton 14. Brother Tarp 15. Brother Westrum 16. Brother Tobitt 17. Rev. Rinehart 18. Brother Hambro 19. Sybil 20. Mr. Kimbro 21. Emerson, Jr.
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