Presentation on theme: "Ralph Waldo Ellison. Born March 1 in Oklahoma City, OK Parents were children of former slaves who themselves worked in service jobs He said of his."— Presentation transcript:
Ralph Waldo Ellison
Born March 1 in Oklahoma City, OK Parents were children of former slaves who themselves worked in service jobs He said of his parents, “no matter what their lives had been, their children’s lives would be lives of opportunity.”
A mix up with a scholarship caused him to leave school and move to NY He met Richard Wright, author of Native Son, who encouraged him to write Helped him get a job with the Federal Writer’s Project in 1938 Wrote reviews for radical publications Reviews often criticized the lack of a “conscious protagonist” Broke with Wright
Began a second novel in case his first didn’t do well-never finished it Published two books of essays Taught at major universities including New York University, Rutgers and the University of Chicago
Was often criticized for not using his writing “as a propaganda tool to elevate the ‘black man in society’.” (writing.upenn.edu) Is similar in style to others involved in the Harlem Renaissance Is full of literary devices especially sound devices and anaphora to highlight his points (repetition of a word or words at the beginning of two or more successive verses, clauses, or sentences)
Ellison was influenced by the Russian novella Notes from the Underground, 1864 It is a “rambling memoir of a bitter isolated, unnamed narrator” (wikipedia) The work was inspired by existentialist ideas-a philosophy dealing with the confusion of living in an apparently meaningless world Kierkegaard, the father of existentialism, felt humans were responsible for giving life its meaning despite obstacles
Focus on the alienation of Blacks in a seemingly free society Analyzes how race is used as power (white over black, black over black) Style is not formal though the vocabulary is impressive; his use of sound devices and figurative language make the reading seem lyrical
Metaphors of blindness and invisibility People don’t see him as he really is because of color Others see him through a stereotype and this forces him to act in a stereotypical way Through his invisibility, he can act without fear of the consequences
How can one person make a difference in society when the way to success and power are controlled by the those who are dishonest or two-faced?
The taboo of white/black romantic relationships Blacks in power are often mistrusted as being associated with Whites Stereotypical Black images Conflicts between assimilationists and separatists
Ralph Ellison died on April 16, 1994 of pancreatic cancer Until his death he continued “spreading and cultivating his vision of America and art: the conscious protagonist and the use of blackness to break categories instead of sustaining them” (writing.upenn.edu)
Old empty bed...springs hard as lead Feel like ol’ Ned...wished I was dead What did I do...to be so black and blue Even the mouse...ran from my house They laugh at you...and scorn you too What did I do...to be so black and blue I'm white...inside...but, that don't help my case ’cause I...can't hide...what is in my face (jazzman sounds) How would it end...ain't got a friend My only sin...is in my skin What did I do...to be so black and blue (instrumental break) How would it end...ain't got a friend My only sin...is in my skin What did I do...to be so black and blue
How does the irony of his living/working situation fit into the theme of the novel? Can fiction make equality possible? Does it? Give an example. Why did Ellison have to make this protagonist different? Explain his invisibility with the power company and the blond man.
Use the text to support your response to the following prompt: In a well-organized essay, describe the various attitudes that the narrator appears to have toward the tall, blond man. How are diction and syntax used to communicate these attitudes?