Affirming the Principle: Ralph Ellison's Critique of Traditional African-American Political Thought

Martin, Lianna
Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man is a classic piece of American literature that details a young African-American man's journey of self-discovery. In addition to being a great piece of fiction, Invisible Man also offers an exacting critique of classic African-American political thought and traditional theories of how African-Americans should improve their status in US society. Invisible Man then goes on to establish a sophisticated theory on how best to gain equality for African-Americans. My study examines Invisible Man as a work of political theory, rather than a work of literature, in the context of traditional African-American political theorists. I studied Ellison's novel in relation to the works of Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. Du Bois and compared their differing views on race relations in America. My paper argues that Ellison intentionally discusses, and then rejects, the ideas of these theorists as a means of laying the foundation of his own philosophy of equality through self-realization, acceptance, and affirmation of the United States' democratic principles.
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
University of Wyoming Libraries