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Racism, Invisibility, and the Alienation of the African American in Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man

SO Azumurana

Abstract


Although Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man has enjoyed a plethora of readings, how the Marxist concept of alienation and estrangement figure in the narrative has been largely ignored. Moreover, critics appear not to be in agreement about Ellison’s aesthetic project in this novel. While some acknowledge the “Negro slant” of the novel, others argue otherwise. This paper contributes to the debate. Using the Marxist concepts of alienation and estrangement in the reading of Ellison’s Invisible Man, it argues that Ellison’s fundamental project in this novel is to show how the skin colour of the African American makes him invisible and alienates him from the socioeconomic and socio-political structures of the American society. In this way, the essay establishes a confluence between the racial experience of African Americans, and their invisibility and estrangement in America as depicted in Ellison’s poetic space



AJOL African Journals Online