I started to read it in December last year, but eventually I found it too cumbersome and hefty to absorb since my mind was still saturated with personal concerns at that time, so it wound up unfinished on my study table , collecting dust , biding its time to be read until its leaves are turning crispy. Then , I realized that it is about time I cleared out my currently-reading shelf to work up more appetite for the other to-read books. It is a burden on my part to put a heap of unfinished books aside, or it looks like as though I had a Mahabharata list of currently-reading books.
History has proven that living in a suppressing nation where you have no absolute freedom , where its atmosphere restrains your desires from expressing your thoughts and feelings, where you are not valued, where you are degraded and debased as if you were the disgusting “invisible” dregs of humanity, brings about revolution in any manners. Some well-known leaders have stood up by means of the iconic Mahatma Gandhi ‘s principles of civil disobedience or “by any necessary means” immortalized by the late black activist Malcolm X. In a subliminal or passive way, some have channeled their pent-up grievances through writing books such as novels which could in effect change a particular cause , and this is at what Ralph Ellison must have aimed .
Ralph Ellison is not far different from Richard Wright, the author of the Native Son that astounded me to the bone. Both of them have in common with their ulterior motive why they wrote a novel about African life: to revolt. The only thing they have big difference is the instrumental style they used in putting their suppressed feelings into a novel. Richard Wright , on the one hand, wrote a suspense novel which you could feel the psychology of racism.Consequently, the novel is heart-breaking, appalling, and sympathetic. You could feel the psychologically adverse effects of slavery, discrimination, prejudice, and bigotry. On the other hand, although Ralph Ellison used the style of R. Wright, he attached more importance to allegories or literary devices; he used some situations and materials in elaborating his suppressed grievances, as appeals to reasons, appeals to emotion, and appeals to authority. Thus, reading it was like as though you get into two dimensions of semantics , and yet you could get at the real climax of the story: You read the literal passages ; at the same time, they have figurative meanings. That is why I was impressed by this book- it is steeped in awakening passages; every page is worth reading, indeed.
Since R. Ellison grew out of a culture of bigotry and availed of his talent in writing to produce this , which he believed could have changed the incorruptible stereotypes of white Americans about blacks as well as awakened his fellow blacks to the reality about divisive dilemma coming into existence among them. In this book, he simply attached to the very simple dialogues and passages with what the “ real” problems he insisted on are the crucial to the desired equality. Ellison wanted to imply figuratively that there are two groups of blacks that prevail: one is that believe in the principle of practicality and gentle and gradual process of raising awareness whereas the second one is consist of the people who believe in the urgent revolution in a manner of public demonstration .
While reading it, the character, Brother Jack reminded me of Martin Luther King Jr. while in the half persona of the unnamed protagonist and Ras the Exhorter , of Malcolm X. As far as I remember from the book The Autobiography of Malcolm X, King and Malcolm had unresolved misunderstanding then, for they had different opinions of means of revolution against racism. For King’s, he could get rid of the ulcer of society by means of religion using his immortal slogan I HAVE A DREAM; Malcolm X’s “ By Necessary Means.” In the other case, I could interpret that the main protagonist could be the persona of Richard Wright. Why not? Ralph Ellison was then close to him. Besides, I learned that Richard Wright once became a spokesperson of a Communist party based on his autobiographical novel Black . Gee, having read a great deal of books about blacks is now causing me to have mental bubbles of analyses.
It is understood that this book was written as a revolutionary book against freedom and equality just the likes of what I have read : UNCLE TOM’S CABIN by Harriet Beecher , A PASSAGE TO INDIA by E. M. Forrester, THE FIXER by Bernard Malamud, A NATIVE SON by Richard Wright, and our very own NOLI ME TANGERE ( TOUCH ME NOT ) by Jose Rizal.( I hope you give it a try. )
This is included on 1001 Best Novels of All Time as well as on TIME’s BEST NOVELS OF ALL TIME since 1923. I should not give it any sheer shadow of doubt because it is absolutely deserving- deserving of any special literary awards, of your time to read it, of being part in American studies, and of your 5 stars. ^^