Invisible Man What makes us visible to others? How is it that sometimes society is completely blind to our? 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 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 because the landlord is unaware of his dwelling. The same example can be said in a working where an employee can come in late multiple times but is not scrutinized because that employee is not vital and therefore u noticed by the employer. This type of is favored by some by lathed 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 (although 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 invisibility 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 were a person deprived of praise and recognition. In order for that persons to be is to make him / herself seen and usually this calls for gaining the attention of another by some act. Then your invisibility becomes visible as a new image is created at the start of recognition.
Visibility is advantages is the acknowledgement is positive. In the book the main character was visible to the white community as being highly educated and intelligent. That recognition 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 conundrum e of being visible is encountering a level disappointment 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 serve than others who are 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 ethnicity, you try exceedingly hard to rise above the negative image that is rendering your identity invisible. I can relate to this situation working as a computer technician. It is not expected that I would be as proficient 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 less and get praised for their work.
Therefore I would have to do more to get the SAME type of recognition. Situations were you can be visible to others but invisible you yourself is when people tend towards an identity that others see or expect. This type of "forced" visibility doesn't have to be influenced by the race or gender of the person. When not influenced by race or gender, a person who may have an identity they are comfortable with but would tend towards another because society say that this person can and will excel with another identity. For example, I knew that I like computer graphics but since I was good in programming and programmers seem to make more money with a hight probability of employment, people had cheered me on to majoring in Computer Science at college. In time, I had started believe that was my true identity.
The case where "forced" visibility is influenced by race or gender is when people tend to develop an identity because of what is expected or what society believes is best. A girl could enjoy doing Auto Repairs but ends up being an Office Administrator because she was repeatedly told that repairing cars is not an environment for girls to work. Although she is truly a mechanic, she appeared to be an Office Administrator to others. The same thing goes for an Afro-American person that doesn't speak slang or dress "urban." This person would be ridiculed by other black people. They would tell this person that he / she should speak with slang and where baggy clothes. In time, this person usually go through the gradual change of becoming person that was visible to the black community.
In time those who tend towards the identity that is not their own eventually becomes lost in that identity. Therefore their true identity is no longer visible to them but remain visible to others in that "other" identity. The issue of visibility and invisibility will always involve race, gender and class. Race, gender and class aren't the ONLY subjects that would influence visibility and invisibly.
It can also be actions, education, hight, etc. Unfortunately people tend to see only what they expect to see, blinding themselves from the actually truths o the of others. This seems to be an ongoing issue as people tend to only look at the surface and don't bother to look past it. Recognizing what deserves is not the only solution. There is also fair treatment of others.
We must learn not to assume what we expect of others. This expectations usually lead to underestimating and disrespect to those that deserve it. Only when we decide not to be blind can we finally see what ws truly invisible.