chapter  7
Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man
Pages 14

Invisible Man begins with a Prologue where the main character, a narrator who remains nameless throughout the text, suggests that he is almost ready to leave a self-imposed hibernation or exile in an underground cave of light. The novel tells the story of how the narrator came to be underground in the first place, and how he is now prepared to begin to re-enter the real world above ground. The narrator’s self-reflexive ambiguity pervades the text. The more he seeks to understand the situations he is in, the less he seems to know. The more he tries to conform to the expectations of those around him, the less he fits in. The text details a series of partially answered, unsatisfactory, and ultimately discarded answers to the question, “What did I do to be so black and blue?”2 The text details the incidents which contribute to the narrator’s blues.