Essay, Research Paper Communism in Relation to the Invisible Man Communism is a social system characterized by the absence of classes and by ownership of the means of production and subsistence, political, economic, and social doctrine aiming at the establishment of such a society. Communism is an attempt to control or limit society by making everybody equal, no person is more important than the whole, and every person has a designated role in society.
Essay, Research Paper
Communism in Relation to the Invisible Man
Communism is a social system characterized by the absence of classes and by ownership of the means of production and subsistence, political, economic, and social doctrine aiming at the establishment of such a society. Communism is an attempt to control or limit society by making everybody equal, no person is more important than the whole, and every person has a designated role in society. American communism is basically the same concept. The American Communist Party was founded in 1919 after a breakup of the socialist party. Even though communism promises a perfect society, Ellison shows that communism hurts people, especially through racism. Throughout the entire novel, communism is portrayed whether we recognize it or not. The whole idea that everyone is equal gives away the communism being portrayed. People should not be characterized by color, race, ethical, or financial status, but recognized by their individuality. One has to find his or her own self before anybody else can begin to understand them.
Throughout the whole book, the invisible man searches for his own true identity. Why was he put on this earth, and what was he supposed to accomplish? Once he discovers who he is, other people might start to see who he is too. It is a long process, but in order to reach his goal it is a process that has to be done. This has to do with communism because it is expressing the individuality and the thought that everyone is equal. Each person needs to find their self in order to be aware of the role in which they are to play. According to many critics, this novel definitely represents what we call communism. Ellison believed in a communist society by what he wrote or symbolized through his writings in the Invisible Man. Find your own true identity because everyone is equal in some way or another. Communism is in the society of today s world, and the world throughout the book. Does the communist way of life help or hurt the community?
At the beginning of the novel, in the prologue, starts communism. The whole idea that the invisible man is invisible to the society and nobody even recognizes him is implying that this truly is a communist society. Ina a communist world everyone is part of a society, and there is no such thing as an individual.
However, Dr. Bledsoe is against the entire idea of communism. He is only out to better himself and to gain more power for himself, instead of his whole race or culture. For example he says, I had to be strong and purposeful to get where I am. I had to wait and plan and lick around Yes, I had to act the nigger! (Ellison 143). This is representing his selfishness in his goal to maintain his power only for himself, and not for that of his people. This is not putting the society before every individual, which is the main goal of communism. Dr. Bledsoe also said, I ve made my place in it and I ll have every Negro in the country hanging on tree limbs by morning if it means staying where I am. (Ellison 143). Even though Ellison changed Dr. Bledsoe, he still does not believe in communism. The entire concept of limits being placed on the individual was too strong for him to grasp.
Mary tells the invisible man that it is his generation that must lead the cause for the black people, but not forget about the little people. Everyone plays a part in the society so they shall gradually improve their status as a whole. Nobody could change the community individually, so don t take all the credit individually.
Communism is also expressed in chapter thirteen. When the invisible man made his speech out of humanistic concern for the elderly couple, Brother Jack believes one cannot waste time on individuals because they are already lost. The Brotherhood has good goals but an ideological dogma and a communistic appearance (Howe 2). That s a good word, Dispossessed ! Dispossessed, eighty-seven years and dispossessed of what? They ain t got nothing, they caint get nothing, they never had nothing. So who was dispossessed? I growled. (279). This symbolizes the elderly couple as all of the Negroes. The dispossession that occurs in Harlem is no different from the dispossession of the Negro race as a whole. Brother Jack said, Yes, of course. And you made an effective speech. But you mustn t waste your emotions on individuals, they don t count. (Ellison 291). This is saying the basic concepts of the Brotherhood, which is working for their rights, but only to advance the movement and not to assist the individuals in need. This also reinforces the communism issue portrayed in the novel.
In chapter fifteen, the invisible man has to give up some personal things himself. For example, when he leaves Mary s house. Again, circumstances force him to leave a place where he feels safe. He must abandon this part of his life even though he does not want to do so. He has to give up personal needs in order to better the society as a whole.
Later in the novel, the Brotherhood makes a slight change in their goals. The organization has changed from focusing only on local issues to focusing on national issues. This shows that gradually communism is growing throughout the novel. It started out locally, and is starting to become a national way of life.
In the final chapter, the invisible man notices the power of the people as a whole. Each individual standing alone has no power or impact on society, but if everyone get together they make a loud bang, and people listen. For example, alone nobody could make a change, therefore the Brotherhood was formed and made an astounding impact on society. Brother Jack was actually against the whole idea of communism. He used the invisible man and also the people of Harlem to advance the Brotherhood and therefore earn more power for himself. In a major way he is thinking of his own needs before the entire community s needs. According to author Ernest Kaiser, the Brotherhood is a direct form of a communist movement.
In the novel, the invisible man s identity, or social role, is always defined by others. Keep this nigger boy running (Ellison 33) said the invisible man s grandfather in a dream. Written during the period of communist hysteria and McCarthyism, Ellison had his Black hero tricked by so-called Communist duplicity (Kaiser 2). Some people think this was a well-written novel, but others think Ellison went a little overboard. He says that Ellison tries to satisfy the New Critics by writing objectively, unemotionally about black experience, and he fails; that his anti-Communism is laid on too thickly to be believed (Kaiser 3).
The main point of this novel is to try to stop everyone from thinking of themselves, and to start thinking about society. It s trying to teach to not worry so much about color, race, ethics, and financial status, and to start worrying about the community and its surroundings. All of the individual characteristics don t mean a thing in a communist society anyway. There is no such belief as an individual, but instead a belief of a whole. The society comes first, not yourself or anybody else. One is more likely to reach a goal if they receive guidance from others, rather then trying to accomplish the goal alone. An idea is just an idea, most of the time, when you re alone, but with a group, results come a lot easier. I agree with the concept Ellison was trying to get across. Communism can be an ideal society in some people s eyes, but a living hell in others. Individuality is a great characteristic to acquire, but in order to reach a set goal or to make a difference in society, one must have a large support group.
Bellow, Saul. Man Underground Review of Ralph Ellison s Invisible Man. Commentary. http://www.english.upenn.edu/ afilreis/50s/bellow-on-ellison.html. (March 17, 1999).
Carey, Gary, Ed. Invisible Man Cliffs Notes. Cliffs Notes, Inc., Lincon, 1998.
Corry, John. Profile of an American Novelist, A White View of Ralph Ellison. Black World. http://www.english.upenn.edu/ afilreis/50s/corry-on-ellison.html. (March 17, 1999).
Ellison, Ralph. Invisible Man. New York: Random House, Inc. 1952.
Howe, Irving. Black Boys and Native Sons. Dissent. http://www.english.upenn.edu/ afilreis/50s/howe-blackboys.html. (March 19,1999).
Kaiser, Earnest. A Critical Look at Ellison s Fiction &at Social & Literary Criticism by and the Author. Black World. http://www.english.upenn.edu/ afilreis/50s/kaiser-on-ellison.html. (March 17,1999).
Riley, Carolyn and Barbara Harte, Eds. Contemporary Literary Criticism. Gale Research Company Book Tower, Detroit, 1974. 179-83.
Turner, Darwin. The World Book Encyclopedia. World Book, Inc. Chicago, 1991. 242-43.
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