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The Invisible Man Book Report: Critical Analysis of Protagonist – Free Essay Example

The Invisible Man book report

The title of this piece of literature is The Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison. I believe the title means that the main character is truly invisible or the acts he commits may look like it was done by an unseeable entity. The genres of this story consist of social commentary, African American literature, and Bildungsroman. Now Bildungsroman is a unique type of genre in literature as the main focus of it is on how the protagonist in the story grows as a person, psychologically and morally. This is important in this story as the protagonist may deal with struggles and has to learn from it. The setting of story takes place in New York City on the Harlem side and a black college to the south, the time period is the 1930’s so racial tension is high, especially against African Americans.


The Invisible Man kicks off with our protagonist who is an unnamed African American man who resides in Harlem New York City. Due to the time period in which he lives in he resides in hew feels as if he doesn’t exist or even matter to society as like he’s just an invisible man, as his cries for help may not be answered or heard. The protagonist begins to have terrible flashbacks to a couple of years in the past when he was a high school student and he came across a white superintendent who offered a chance for the protagonist to get up and make a speech, but the superintendent instead of a speech he decided to humiliate the protagonist and how he was going to be humiliated is by him being blindfolded and told to fight against nine friends. After all of that wrongful humiliation by the superintendent, the protagonist gave off a speech to others in which after the humiliation he felt terrible and like an invisible figure to people in society. These acts would ignite what would later happen and explain to why the protagonist feels invisible to society and the racial disparity as why did the white superintendent has done this and gotten away with it and opens up on how harsh African Americans were treated and many people turned a blind eye.


The protagonist begins to make a move and begins to act to the values and social norms of the social group he’s associated with and also the expectations others may have of other people because of their social group or by the way they look. Our protagonists struggle and think through his thoughts on how he struggles to be able to accept his role that is imposed by society just because he happens to be a black man. The protagonist deals with hardship as for many black Americans they struggle on how to be seen as normal people and not automatically classify them like this and also think of racially motivated attacks. Our unnamed protagonist takes a lot of time to really understand how and why the concept of his identity and also struggles with who he really is as he is taking an inside look on his inner identity in which most of society won’t notice nor care. The great struggle is on how people in society may perceive someone just off of the bases of their appearance thus making many social norms and creating standards and it shows the difficulty of being different and many are not accepting of it.

Rising Action

As the protagonist struggles with problems of fitting in with society but he’s really just glanced over and no one really cares or acknowledges his existence. At the college in which the protagonist attended, Dr. Bledsoe expels the narrator(the protagonist) from the college. After all of the ruckus from the expulsion, the protagonist gets into a little brawl with his black supervisor at the Liberty Paints plant, and from the fight, he later arrives at the hospital. During his experience at the hospital, he forms a formidable bond with Mary as during this time of him meeting a great ally. The protagonist has a sense of rebirth and Mary decides to teach the protagonist a great sense of responsibility. Shortly after Mary offers the protagonist to join the Brotherhood as she believes he has learned greatly and changed for the better as if he’s a brand new man as he would fight for racial equality.


After joining the Brotherhood the protagonist finally felt like he truly belonged in something like he truly matters in the world after so long. The protagonist, later on, witnesses Clifton’s murder which the blood was on the hands on the white police that committed the terrible act racially. The protagonist later struggles to get in touch with the brotherhood, so he decides to prepare and plan Clifton’s funeral on his command and rallies the African American community to put their anger and frustration towards the state of race relations. Brotherhood shortly after the protagonist’s act of independence and freedom he is kicked out of the Brotherhood. The Brotherhood didn’t appreciate his acts and thus he was out now it’s uncertain but chaos is coming.

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Falling Action

Shortly after the protagonist is kicked out of the Brotherhood the anger from the oppression of African Americans and the wrongful murder of Clifton, riots in Harlem break out. During this time the people who are relenting their anger that has been piling up until it reached the breaking point and there is much hate surrounding communities and tons of distraught. The narrator meets a rather foul and quite awful man named Ras, who later calls for the narrator to be lynched. This causes the narrator the run and hide for his life as Ras and the police would lynch him if they catch him. The narrator now needs to keep his head low and be wary as he’s currently being hunted down. Through his attempt to stay alive he falls into a manhole and lives underground for a while until it’s safe to come out just like hibernation.


As the story is winding down the protagonist decided to leave the manhole and rejoin society and to not hide anymore as he has before. The protagonist would now show who he really is as he displays he’s a complex individual instead of being brought down and forgotten by the labels people may call him or see him as. The protagonist has truly grown as an individual as he’s not some loner and some worthless human being-like how people may apply labels like that to him but no he’s truly a complex character and he’s more than just an African American facing racial discrimination, but instead, he may succeed and show others or may inspire many hopeless African Americans that were just like him so many years ago.

Main Character

The main character in this story is left unnamed and is referred to as the protagonist or narrator. I believe this character is the protagonist as the story is told from his point of view and tells you his experience. As he considers himself invisible or nonexistent because the general public never sees who he really is other than the stereotypical roles and stereotypes. Racial problems also come into play. Although when he was very young he was very naive and stirred up some trouble, he would later change and gain responsibility and join the Brotherhood finally ignoring his blindness and later honoring his complexity and he doesn’t even sacrifice his social responsibility. This is a perfect example of a great character and a character that is like a real person as he goes to struggles and is sometimes in danger or sadness.


The antagonist is Ras The Exhorter is what I believe to be the bad guy of the story because he is the one who started and encouraged the riots in Harlem. Ras also loves to get the public agitated. Ras represents a black nationalist movement in order to fulfill his wish for a violent overthrow of white supremacy although white supremacy is bad it’s that there are better ways to go about it. Ras would also oppose the Brotherhood and didn’t like the protagonist that much and he shows that by being violent towards the narrator and wants to lynch him as well. The protagonist must overcome this character to stay safe and live to see another day.

Favorite character

Mary is a character that I’m very fond of as she gives off such a grandma vibe as she helped out the protagonist by offering him a place to stay and of course food and a place to rest. Mary is really kind and she was doing all of that free of charge. Mary is also the one who tell the protagonist more about his black identity and how he can become someone greater and urges the protagonist on to join the fight with other African Americans on racial issues and the fight for equality. Mary is important for the story as she is the one who really sets off the protagonist to show who he really is and to actually be complex.


The theme of the story was such a huge problem back in the day but yet the problem still somewhat remains today. The theme of The Invisible Man is racism as an obstacle to individual identity. Racism is a huge theme in this story as to how the protagonist begins the story. The protagonist happens to be black while living in a racist America which was normal and accepted in their days but not anymore. The narrator finds two unique sets of black communities such as the Brotherhood and Liberty paints which both of communities support a certain way in which an African American is supposed to act. This shows is that because of their skin color they are supposed to fall under certain categories, some people may be ok with that but others aren’t as those categories may not fit the person who they really are. The protagonist goes through this struggle as he’s been a part of both of the communities and eventually got kicked out. At the end of the novel, the protagonist later becomes a complex individual as he tore off the chains that society placed on how he was supposed to act or be like he didn’t want to be the same as 20 others he wanted to find himself and see who he really is.


The Invisible Man is a good book but there is a little problem, it’s not really a book that may captivate people so that they’ll read it consistently but as I kept on reading more and more did I enjoy the book more, and its great on how the book has a great message that I believe everyone should acknowledge or even incorporate the theme of the story in their own life. The story was surprisingly entertaining at times. This isn’t a book that I would consider an instant read as this style of story may only appeal to certain types of people but yes I would recommend it.


With pieces of literature, they include sometimes difficult vocabulary as to tell the reader/ explain to the reader in greater context on whatś happening in the story. I have five vocabulary words in which I didn’t fully understand yet but then I took a closer look at them.Constituency,flamboyant,inauthentic,maverick,and servile. Those 5 words got me somewhat confused as I was reading the story, but when I found their meaning it felt like a puzzle truly coming together.

Works cited

  1. SparkNotes, SparkNotes,
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  5. Gallegos, Isaiah. “Exposition Presentation of Invisible Man By Ralph Ellison.”, 4 Nov. 2017,
  6. Shmoop Editorial Team. “Invisible Man Booker’s Seven Basic Plots Analysis.” Shmoop, Shmoop University, 11 Nov. 2008,

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