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Invisible Man

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Invisible Man

What makes us visible to others? How is it that sometimes society is completely blind to our exisitance? Either we are invisible because we are not being noticed or we are invisible because others can not see our true identity due to expectations relating to race, gender or class. Of course the term invisible was not intended to be taken literally. The meaning of invisible in Ellison's Invisible Man is essentially metaphorical. Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man, the main character experiences invisibility in various manners and situations.

Being invisible has its advantages. If others don't acknowlegde you then you could get away with actions that people are usually

punished with a penalty. In the book, the main character tells of his advantages of being invisible such as living in the basement of an apartment building rent free beause the landlord is unaware of his dwelling. The same example can be said in a working environment

where an employee can come in late multiple times but is not scrutinized because that employee is not vital and therefore unoticed by the employer. This type of invisiblilty is favored by some by laothed by others.

Some people don't like the felling of being unimportant. Ironically, in the book Invisible Man, the main character explained the advantages of being invisible shortly after he showed contempt for being invisible. Frustrated at his invisibility, he lashes out at a man he intentionally bumped into (althought at the beginning, he said it was accidental). Observing this more closely, it was an attempt to be acknowledge by the man to see if he would move out of the way. The fact that the man didn't bother to do so only push him down a deeper state of anger and therefore the only way for him to be acknowledge is to act drastically. This inisibility is a reflection of the other's respect for the main character. The main character was not a seen person of importance. Not being acknowledge is usually frowned upon. This disregard of acknowledge occurs often in a place of work. Whether it be in a learning institution or a working environment

were a person deprived of praise and recongnition. In order for that perons to be reconginized is to make him/herself seen and usually this calls for gaining the attention of another by some act. Then your invisibility becomes visble as a new image is created at the start of recongnition.

Visibilty is advantages is the acknowlegement is positive. In the book the main character was visible to the white community as being highly educated and intelligent. That recongnition earned him a scholarship to college. Having a visible positive image will create paths to various types of advancement. Being visible with a positive image brings for more praises because your accomplishments will be noticed because they are expected.

The conundrume of being visible is encountering a level disapointment or scrutiny that is proportional to the level of appraisal. This creates pressure to protect the positive image. If you were to make a mistake, you're punishment or ridicule may be more servre than others who are vitrually invisible. Even worst, you may get punished for the same behavior or mistakes that go unpunished for others since erroneous acts was expected of them but not of you.

There is also the case where you are visible to yourself but invisible to others. You may have a negative image that you are trying hard to dissolve. You know that you have positive capabilities, but due to expectations of others because of either past events, social status, or enthnicity, you try exceedingly hard to rise above the negative image that is rendering your identity invisible. I can relate to this situtation working as a computer technician. It is not expected that I would be as proficent in technical consulting because I am female. I tend to work harder not to show that I'm more reliable than the male employees, but so that my accomplishments are acknowledged. Male employees would do

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