I believe Mr. Ellison’s purpose in writing Invisible Man was simply education. Sadly, his first-person account of all the ways Black people face oppression is not as shocking as it could be because it simply reiterates that there is nothing simple or easy about the life of a Black person. Not only do they face hatred and oppression through racism, but they also face something similar through those Black persons who cater to white people. It is something we have been hearing from Black people for years, but reading it as a first-person story somehow drives it home more than any news article or interview.
Joe Morton takes a difficult story and brings it to life with his performance. He approaches the written word as a script, and it shows in his narration. Not only does he bring each unique character to life, but he also exudes each emotion our unnamed narrator feels just through the speed at which he speaks. It is an extraordinary performance that makes a story that is, frankly, not an enjoyable read worthwhile.
Invisible Man is not an easy read, but it is an important one because it provides a first-hand glimpse of racism and segregation. It matters not that the story occurs 100 years ago because the unnamed narrator’s experiences simply prove that nothing really changed in those 100 years. Through his story, we see the insidious nature of racism and how it can affect anyone. In that regard, Invisible Man is essential reading for those who want to become anti-racist.