In the novel, The Invisible Man, the narrator of the story, like Siddhartha and Antonius Blok, is on a journey, but he is searching to find himself. This is interesting because the narrator is looking for himself and is not given a name in the book. Like many black people, the narrator of the story faces persecution because of the color of his skin.
The journey that the narrator takes has him as a college student as well as a part of the Brotherhood in Harlem. By the end of the book, the narrator decides to hide himself in a cellar, thinking of ways he can get back at the white people. However, in the novel, the man learns that education is very important, he realizes the meaning of his grandfather’s advice, and he sees the importance of his “invisibility.” Through this knowledge that he gains, the narrator gains more of an identity.
The narrator of the story knows that education is important, however in the novel he learns just how important it is. The first thing his education brings him is a briefcase made of calfskin, which was given to him by the superintendent for the achievements he had accomplished. Because of this, the briefcase becomes very important to the narrator and he hangs on to it for the whole book, and it is the only thing that he brings with him when he retreats to the cellar to plot against the whites. In the briefcase is a scholarship which was awarded to the narrator to an all black college, which he attends.
The scholarship made the narrator very happy because he now had the opportunity to continue his education in an institute of higher learning. Many of the blacks at the time were not well educated and he wanted to do all that he could to not be included in this bunch. Because of his furthered education, he can now be placed a bit higher in the pecking order of society, above the other stereotypical blacks who lacked education due to a small amount of funding, or because of anything else. The narrator knew the importance of education and wanted to do all that he could to get everything possible.
Another realization that helps the narrator gain more of an identity is the realization of his grandfather’s advice. Basically the grandfather says to keep fighting and take risks, and never to let anyone beat him. The advice of his grandfather is stuck in the narrator’s mind ever since he hears them, and then at the funeral of Tod Clifton and when he is betrayed by the Brotherhood, he finally knows what his grandfather was getting at. After this realization, the narrator pretends to be a loyal member of the Brotherhood, but is really trying to take them down from the inside. This is when he starts to fight back. The advice from the grandfather gives a meaning to the life of the narrator, and in a sense, serves as an inspiration to him.
And finally, the narrator’s so-called invisibility plays a role in him finding himself. The “invisibility” as it relates to the narrator is not a physical invisibility, but instead has a deeper meaning. It can be looked at in three ways. One is that he in invisible from society because he hides himself, another is that he is invisible because he is not always seen as a man because he is black and some people perceive him as more of an animal or something of that nature.
And the third way to think of the invisibility is that is means that he has no identity of his own, and therefore is invisible, which ties into the search for himself. Because he does not really have an identity of his own, he takes on the identity of Rhinehart and is able to make himself “invisible” while sneaking past Ras without being noticed. His invisibility also saves him from the men chasing him with bats at the riots demanding his briefcase. This is more along the lines of a physical invisibility however because he falls into manhole and can not be seen by anyone. Nonetheless it proves to be important. His low profile and withdrawal from society gives him a chance to form his own identity and to find himself.
In conclusion, it is clear that the narrator in Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man finds an identity through his education, his grandfather’s advice, and his invisibility. Each of these three things plays a key role in his finding of himself. His education give him the abilities to achieve what he wanted and give himself a slightly higher status than most blacks, his grandfather’s advice gave him the drive he needed to fight back and inspires him, and his invisibility allows him to become himself as well as once allowing him to save his life. He becomes a more satisfied man at the end of the novel, as did Siddhartha and Blok in their respective works.