Invisible Man is a 1952 novel written by Ralph Ellison, developed from a short story that formed the novel's initial "Battle Royal" chapter. It was Ellison's only novel to be published during his lifetime, and it won him the National Book Award in 1953. The novel addresses many of the social and intellectual issues facing the post-civil-war American Black identity, including the relationship between this identity and Marxism, black nationalism, and the reformist racial policies of Booker T. Washington.
- I am a man of substance, of flesh and bone, fiber and liquids--and I might even be said to possess a mind. I am invisible, understand, simply because people refuse to see me.
- It's when you feel like this that, out of resentment, you begin to bump people back. And, let me confess, you feel that way most of the time. You ache with the need to convince yourself that you do exist in the real world, that you're a part of all the sound and anguish, and you strike out with your fists, you curse and you swear to make them recognize you. And, alas, it's seldom successful.
- The truth is the light and light is the truth.
- I am one of the most irresponsible beings that ever lived. Irresponsibility is part of my invisibility; any way you face it, it is a denial. But to whom can I be responsible, and why should I be, when you refuse to see me?
- I was looking for myself and asking everyone except myself questions which I, and only I, could answer.
- Chapter 1
- Had the price of looking been blindness, I would have looked.
- Chapter 1
- ...you both fail to understand what is happening to you. You cannot see or hear or smell the truth of what you see—and you, looking for destiny! It’s classic! And the boy, this automaton, he was made of the very mud of the region and sees far less than you. Poor stumblers, neither of you can see the other. To you he is a mark on the score-card of your achievement, a thing and not a man; a child, or even less—a black, amorphous thing. And you, for all your power, are not a man to him, but a God, a force...
- Chapter 3
- ...the world is just as concrete, ornery, vile, and sublimely wonderful as before, only now I better understand my relation to it and it to me.
- Chapter 26
- What and how much had I lost by trying to do only what was expected of me instead of what I myself had wished to do?
- I am an invisible man. I am a man of substance, of flesh and bone, fiber and liquids - and I might even be said to possess a mind. I am invisible, understand, simply because people refuse to see me.
- When I discover who I am, I'll be free.