Makayla Soto Mrs.May AP Lit The Pursuit of Clarity Often used to convey a strong underlying message, symbolism can be a powerful means of expression. Ralph Ellison uses this quite frequently in his controversial novel, Invisible Man.Through the use of symbolism, Ellison examines the eternal pursuit that an African- American man in the segregated 1930’s must make, in order to find clarity in a dark time. To show the narrator’s awakening to the fact that his voice remains unheard because of his race, Ellison uses symbolism that takes the form of a veil. Ellison shows this when he says “...the breathtaking gesture of lifting a veil that flutters in hard, metallic, folds above the face of a kneeling slave; and I am standing puzzled; unable to decide whether the veil is really being lifted or lowered more firmly in place, whether I am witnessing a revelation or a more efficient bonding”(36). Although the veil is a physical object in this depiction, the reader is still inclined to believe it is a symbol of speech. This conclusion is materialized through analysis of the phrase “witnessing a revelation or a more efficient bonding” (36). In effect, the narrator is coming to terms with the fact that the liberation of his people was not necessarily liberation but in fact a “more efficient” silencing.The second time Ellison makes use of the veil analogy is through the degradation of an exotic dancer. He describes her as “...a fair bird-girl girdled to me in veils calling to me from the angry surface of some gray and threatening sea.”(19). Despite the difference in race, the narrator relates to the dancer because of her social status. Like him, she is
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- Invisible Man