Abstract: Ralph Ellison’s representative work Invisible man tells a story about a black youngster’s mentally maturity course for seeking for the sense of self-belongings in a society congested with racial segregation and discrimination. Ralph Ellison has made the novel the volume of realism, naturalism, expressionism and surrealism, especially symbolism, telling a straightforward story but expressing quite profound and sophisticated theme, so that the novel could be considered from different levels and angles. The present paper attempts to analyze one of the most obvious rhetoric devices in the novel —— symbolism, to see how the author reveals the theme and expresses the thoughts of the novel by using this rhetoric device.
Key words: Invisible man; Ralph Ellison; symbolism; self-belonging
Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison is one of the classical creations in contemporary Black American Literature and possesses many features of contemporary western novels. It talks about the sense of self-belongings and the situation for oneself in an absurd society in contents and combines realism and surrealism together in the arts. Symbolism is one of the typical rhetoric devices in the novel. Through the frequent use of symbolism, the author depicts a society flooded with racial segregation and discrimination, and shows the abnormal and irrational relationship between the blacks and the whites in modern society. The author considers that Afro-Americans most properly illustrate their ridiculous situation where they are in a tight corner of self-dissimilation and hostile forces, so he implies the fate of the entire humankind by exemplifying the blacks’ life with symbolism and the evolution of ideas of the “invisible man”.
The most symbolic and significant image in the novel is “invisibility”. Ellison not only shows the hero’s blindness toward his future, but also suggests that everyone in the then absurd American society could hardly get rid of “invisibility”. In his novel,...