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"Ambivalent Man": Ellison's Rejection of Communism.

"I too have become acquainted with ambivalence," I said. "That's why I'm here."

Ambivalence. No term--in a novel written immediately after World War II by an African American with a history of involvement in left-wing causes--could be more laden with moral and political connotations. This essay situates Invisible Man at a specific moment in American political history: early in the Cold War, when numerous intellectuals once sympathetic to Marxism sought philosophical justifications for their disenchantment. Proclaiming one's ambivalence in such an intellectual atmosphere, I will argue, amounted to a direct assault on a rich Marxist/Hegelian philosophical tradition. A specific source of complaint, for thinkers like Reinhold Niebhur, Lionel Trilling, and Ralph Ellison, was the confidence with which Marxist dogma asserted that contradictions--historical, psychological--would be resolved. Invisible Man's ambivalence amounts to a counter-assertion that "I am a living contradiction, who eludes dialectical logic." Thus Ellison's novel stands as a quintessential expression of "New Liberalism"--t he anti-Stalinism of the post-World War II American left.

Invisible Man performs a sophisticated critique of numerous Marxist/Hegelian philosophical premises, as preached by the Brotherhood: not only the notion that history will resolve contradictions, but that individuals matter only insofar as they embody historical moments or principles; that race matters less than class in American society; that a society as complex and fluid as America's can be understood with "scientific" precision; and that an avant-garde party can embody the consciousness of entire masses of individuals. As preposterous and repugnant as Ellison found many of these assumptions, I claim, his novel's complex analysis of its narrator's psyche, and of American society, would have been impossible without Hegelian/Marxist concepts like "contradiction," "recognition," and "negation." The novel is suffused with such concepts, even as it bitterly ironizes "scientists" like Brother Jack. Indeed, its struggle with these concepts is one of its richest features. The first section of this essay will pair passages from the openings of Invisible Man and Hegel's Phenomenology of the Spirit in order to clarify the foundations of the larger Western intellectual tradition within which Ellison works and against which he struggles. An additional passage from The Souls of Black Folk will demonstrate how Hegelian terminology, routed through Du Bois's racially specific psychological theories, becomes especially relevant to the situation of our oft-confused hero.

The second section will narrow the cultural context of the novel to America after World War II. Here Reinhold Niebhur will play a large role in establishing the terms on which thinkers like Ellison challenged Communist orthodoxies. In this section the full implications of the term ambivalence should grow clear. Marxism, posited as a vast Other in Cold War discourse, comes to be associated with dogmatic certainties about "history," the expendability of individuals, etc.--an array of dangerous enthusiasms to which an ambivalent individual would not be prone. The Brotherhood reveals its susceptibility to many dangerous dogmas as soon as it welcomes Invisible Man into its ranks, after his eviction speech. The intellectual arrogance with which it (mis)reads this speech to fit its own (deracialized) theories of history alerts us to the reasons that the organization should be mistrusted. Ambivalence, then--whatever its dangers (and Ellison is keenly aware of them)--comes to seem, in comparison, a morally responsibl e reaction to the complex horrors of life in Harlem at a time when Black Nationalists and Communists are busy recruiting foot soldiers.

The final section suggests broad intellectual affinities between Invisible Man and "The Horror and the Glory"--part two of Richard Wright's Black Boy--and further narrows our context, to African American intellectuals' shifting relationship with the Communist Party. Wright and Ellison, as would be expected, leveled numerous critiques against the CP which are familiar to anyone raised in the American grain: It stifles free thought; it ignores people's uniqueness; it attempts to oversimplify the paradoxes of social life. But these writers could also probe the Party's ability to serve black communities more deeply than the broader--mostly white--American left was often able to do. Each masterfully ironized the CP (supposedly a vehicle for solidarity among oppressed individuals) for the way it reenacted old forms of oppression, or even created new forms of discord among African Americans. [1]

Consciousness, Masters, and Slaves

I open my discussion of Hegel, Du Bois, and Ellison's Invisible Man with an extensive quotation from the German idealist. I focus on those seeds in his argument which will later bear fruit in my reading of Ellison:

Self-consciousness exists in itself and for itself .... it is only by being acknowledged or recognized. [It] has before it another self-consciousness; it has come outside does not regard the other as essentially real, but sees its own self in the other. It must suspend this other self ... in order thereby to become certain of itself as true being. That which for it is the other stands as unessential object, with the impress and character of negation. But the other is also a self-consciousness; an individual makes its appearance in antithesis to an individual....Consciousness finds that it immediately is and is not another consciousness. (Hegel 399-401)

For all of its abstraction, this philosophy is peculiarly relevant to the struggles of African Americans. If self-consciousness encompasses a sense of one's own dignity and freedom, then how difficult must it be to claim this birthright in the absence of recognition! When white America refuses to recognize you as a complex human individual--a sin in which, according to Ellison, most twentieth-century American literature is implicated [2] -- and white America has power, its blindness affects you down to the details of your own inner life. [3] Marx, whom I will discuss below, materializes Hegel's dialectic, insisting that the power struggles which shape history are fundamentally economic, not psychological. Ellison by no means ignores economics, but is closer to Hegel on this account, repeatedly insisting that, as a novelist, the "human heart" is his subject. [4]

What Hegel terms "negation" -- meaning, among other things, the unreality of an unrecognized consciousness--Ellison refigures as "invisibility." His hero finds strategic use in his unenviable position. Of course, recognition as an equal would be preferable to a well-manipulated invisibility, but by choosing invisibility/subversion (if only temporarily), the narrator makes a very specific political decision, which Hegelian logic cannot encompass.

According to Hegel, "antithesis" describes the structure of the conflict between self-consciousnesses struggling for recognition. In Marx's account of history--derived directly from Hegel's--the same term refers to the violent clash of opposites, specifically classes. When the Brotherhood engineers a race riot in Harlem, it works with this model of historical change, exacerbating a contradiction (an inequality) so that violence will ensue, and serve its own political agenda. Invisible Man, on the other hand, refuses this formula. He alerts us that

"most of the time (although I do not choose as I once did to deny the violence of my days by ignoring it) I am not so overtly violent. I remember that I am invisible and walk softly ...." (5)

Choosing invisibility, rather than an explicit antithetical assertion of his claims, defines for Invisible Man an alternative form of rebellion. This alternative may be of questionable efficacy: Like Hamlet's, Invisible Man's thinking may suspend him in inaction (I said earlier that Ellison was keenly aware of the dangers of ambivalence). But he remains committed to "socially responsible" action, and his need for a hiatus is understandable, given the fanaticisms (Ras's, the Brotherhood's) by which he is surrounded.

Already we see how relevant--if appropriately adapted--Hegel's concepts can be to the plight of black America. The passage above from The Phenomenology of the Spirit concludes with the paradoxical assertion that "consciousness ... is and is not another consciousness." W. E. B. Du Bois theorized the peculiar "double-consciousness" of African Americans near the beginning of Souls of Black Folk (largely anticipating Fanon):

... the Negro is ... gifted with a second sight in this American world,--a world which yields him no true self-consciousness, but only lets him see himself through the revelation of the other world. It is a peculiar sensation, this double-consciousness, this sense of always looking at one's self through the eyes of others.... One ever feels his two-ness,--an American, a Negro; two souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings, two warring ideals in one dark body, whose dogged strength alone keeps it from being tom asunder. (3)

In the second section of this essay I will discuss in detail how the hero's proclamation of "ambivalence" (complementing his "invisibility") defies what American New Liberals saw as Stalin's rage to "synthesize," or resolve, all contradictions. For the moment, Du Bois's passage serves to illustrate that ambivalence--an ability to wrestle with morally troubling contradictions without expecting them to go away--was a defining feature of Afro-American intellectual life for nearly a half-century before the publication of Invisible Man and the tribulations of the Cold War. Rather than insisting that one-half of his divided consciousness ultimately "negates" the other (to continue in an Hegelian vein), Du Bois asserts that

the history of the American Negro is the history of this strife,--this longing to attain self-conscious manhood, to merge his double self into a better and truer self. In this merging he wishes neither of the older selves to be lost. He would not Africanize America, for America has too much to teach the world and Africa. He would not bleach his Negro soul in a flood of white Americanism, for he knows that Negro blood has a message for the world. (4)

Ellison shares Du Bois's sense that black Americans (perhaps, in their own way, white Americans too!) are doomed to live a paradox. "Weren't we part of them as well as apart from them," asks Invisible Man in reference to his white countrymen, "and subject to die when they died?" (575). At this and other moments when Invisible Man wrestles with his grandfather's advice, he poses rhetorical questions. The answer in this case would seem to be "Yes," but no final answer is given here, or anywhere in the novel. The reader is made to struggle with the same paradox as Invisible Man, and, by extension, as all of black and white America.

Whatever aversion Invisible Man may feel toward violence as a means of resolving contradictions, though, he also understands the temptation of refusing to be invisible ("negated")--of asserting his self-consciousness in the immediate present--as demonstrated by his potentially fatal encounter with a blond man, to be discussed shortly. Hegel carries this idea to its limit. In his dialectic, two opposed self-consciousnesses engage in a life-and-death struggle, solely for the prize of recognition by (mastery over) the other. Recognition in this struggle is prized more than life itself. The winner will be the one who values his life less than does the other, who places his life at greater risk for the sake of being recognized for this, recognized for valuing existence itself less than independence as a self-consciousness. The winner and loser end up "master" and "bondsman":

The relation of both self-consciousnesses is so constituted that they prove themselves and each other through a life and death struggle. They must enter into this struggle, for they must bring their certainty of themselves, the certainty of being for themselves, to the level of objective truth.... The individual who has not staked his life may, no doubt, be recognized as a person; but he has not attained the truth of this recognition as an independent self-consciousness. In the same way each must aim at the death of the other, as it risks its own life thereby; for that other is to it of no more worth than itself.... The master is the consciousness that exists for itself... is the power dominating the negative nature of existence.... the master holds, as a consequence, this other in subordination.... The master gets his recognition through another consciousness, for in them the latter affirms itself as unessential. (Hegel 402-05)

This is quite a bleak view of human relations.

Invisible Man, in his wide-eyed college innocence, is reluctant to see social life as such a bare struggle for dominance. But then, part of his education, his disillusionment, over the course of the novel, consists in his learning that figures like Bledsoe and Norton (whom he is inclined to idolize for their supposed benevolence) are thoroughly ensnared in complex forms of domination and subordination. No wonder, then, that his Prologue describes the following horrific encounter, so thoroughly reminiscent of the life-and-death struggle posited by Hegel:

One night I accidentally bumped into a man, and perhaps because of the near darkness he saw me and called me an insulting name. I sprang at him, seized his coat lapels and demanded that he apologize. He was a tall blond man, and as my face came close to his he looked insolently out of his blue eyes and cursed me, his breath hot in my face as he struggled. I pulled his chin down sharp upon the crown of my head, butting him as I had seen the West Indians do, and I felt his flesh tear and the blood gush out, and I yelled "Apologizel Apologize!" ... in my outrage I got out my knife and prepared to slit his throat ... when it occurred to me that the man had not seen me, actually; that he, as far as he knew, was in the midst of a walking nightmare! (Invisible Man 4)

Hegel's abstract philosophy is here given concrete (American) reality by Ellison's novelistic detail. What is the narrator after when he demands apology, if not recognition? The recognition sought historically by black America is not identical to that described by Hegel, for black America has not striven to subordinate white America, to render white self-consciousness "unessential." The moral equation has usually been different: As Ellison repeatedly describes, African Americans struggle to hold their nation accountable to the "sacred principles" of its founding documents, demand that it cease its "ethical schizophrenia," stop "holding that all men are created equal, [yet treating] thirteen million Americans as though they [are] not" (Shadow and Act 99). Invisible Man wonders if his grandfather's advice wasn't just this, "to affirm the principle on which the country was built and not the men, or at least not the men who did the violence." (574)

But he is not immune to behaving like an opposed self-consciousness in Hegel's bleak formula; hence, he is prepared to slit the blond man's throat, to engage in a struggle to the death. For the blond man, as he comments, has not "seen him." Something in the "construction of his inner eye," his (wanting) moral awareness, has led him to negate the black man he encounters on the street. Notice that the blond man is recognizable not only by his hair color, but also by virtue of the fact that he is "tall," blue-eyed, and that his breath -- associated with his spirit, his power to speak, his intelligence -- is "hot" in Invisible Man's face. All of these physical details endow the blond man, nameless though he may remain, with a human reality, in opposition to the black man, whom neither he nor, in this scene, the reader has truly "seen" with any concreteness. It is unlikely that, in the darkness of night and the frenzy of a violent struggle, the color of anyone's eyes would be clear. Ellison is not aiming at reali sm, but at a kind of surreal, or symbolic, depiction of two opposed self-consciousnesses: an archetypal white American (tall, blond, blue-eyed -- recognizably specific -- and racially insensitive) and an archetypal black American (vague and unseen, wounded and resentful, tempted to violence).

If Invisible Man furnishes such vivid (if surreal) examples of America's racial inequities, why does its hero ultimately refuse to take up an antithetical stance toward society? What about Ras's, and more importantly, the Brotherhood's oppositional stance does he find intellectually untenable? In other words, if Ellison finds Hegel's portrayal of psychological and historical struggle so compelling that he structures his novel (most of all his Prologue) largely on Hegelian concepts, what leads him to reject adversarial radicalism in, for example, the Marxist vein? Why reject a version of history as antitheses transformed, by revolutionary politics, to syntheses in favor of a more mainstream American ideology? His narrator tells us, near novel's end,

...after first being "for" society and then "against" it, I assign myself no rank or any limit, and such an attitude is very much against the trend of the times. But my world has become one of infinite possibilities.... Until some gang succeeds in putting the world in a strait jacket, its definition is possibility.... Now I know men are different and that all life is divided and that only in division is there true health. Hence again I have stayed in my hole, because up above there's an increasing passion to make men conform to a pattern. (576)

What "trend of the times" is Invisible Man setting himself against? Who "up above" desires "to make men conform to a pattern?" What "gang" would put the world "in a strait jacket?"

Clearly one gang alluded to is the Brotherhood, a particular fictional group of white New York radicals. But Invisible Man's significance was, and is, not merely national, but international. Ellison alludes, through the Brotherhood, to global "trends of the times." When he defines the world as "possibility," he sounds a quintessentially American note: No country has ever been so confident in its power to remake itself. When he asserts that "only in division is there true health," and continues shortly thereafter, "Whence all this passion toward conformity anyway?--diversity is the word. Let man keep his many parts and you'll have no tyrant states" (577), the Cold War is palpable beneath the text's surface. America is "possibility" and "diversity"; Stalin's is a "tyrant state," which, like its offspring the Brotherhood, would impose a pattern on an otherwise fluid social reality.

Ellison loved the fluidity and unpredictability of American democracy; he loved that, lurking in tiny Chehaw Station, [5] might be a black man with a passion for classical music whose potential presence would keep young musician always "responsible," always on his guard against artistic complacency. This patriotic American, and anti-totalitarian, impulse was a constant throughout Ellison's career. But it was not so clear a constant through the careers of other left-wing thinkers of his era: Thorough evidence of totalitarian excesses was required before various of Ellison's contemporaries caught up to him, and helped to create a cultural milieu in which "ambivalence"--as Ellison deploys the concept in his novel--could be so pregnant with significance.

American "New Liberalism" and Anticommunism

On September 23, 1939, Hitler concluded a non-aggression pact with Stalin, and on October 1 he invaded Czechoslovakia without a fight. Many American and European leftists, skeptical of the commitment to anti-fascism of their own democratic governments, had looked to Communism for a united front against this enemy. [6] Of course, saying that a widespread Western disaffection with Communism began on October 1, 1939, would be silly: Different people--influential intellectuals among them--left the Party, or, if never members, grew suspicious or hostile toward it at different times, for various reasons. Stalin's "realistic" geopolitical motives for concluding the pact supply one small example of how a rhetoric which in one context seems liberatory and revelatory can in another context seem corrupt." 'We're all realists here,'" the Brotherhood tells Invisible Man (307), announcing their clearsighted understanding of history. In the distance between this kind of advertised "realism" and the more calculated exigency of Stalin's realism lies the perfect opportunity for a literary critique by an ironist like Ellison. But more of the language of Invisible Man in a moment.

When American thinkers in the New Liberal milieu looked to justify their anticommunism, they often did so by using spiritual, psychological, and moral terms--not just historical and political ones--to describe human conflict. Reinhold Niebhur, a Protestant theologian who became a prime spokesman for New Liberal ideology in the mid-'40s and '50s, complained that an entire tradition of secular Enlightenment thought, which encompassed Marxism, ascribed "the evils in human nature and history ... to social institutions or to ignorance or to some other manageable defect in human nature or environment." Niebhur himself was committed to "the Christian idea of the ambiguity of human virtue" (qtd. in Schaub 11). He believed that people had only a limited control over history, and that attempts at total control were dangerous, liable to end in tyranny. Ellison's novel lets neither politics (a belief in historical perfectibility, or at least progress) nor morals (a belief in the permanent reality of good and evil) subst itute for the other, but insists on an understanding of the world which includes both.

The narrator's battle royal speech illustrates how what I will call "virtue talk" can function as repressive "ideology," in the classic Marxist sense of a moral code by which the ruling class maintains its dominance: "'To those of my race who ... underestimate the importance of cultivating friendly relations with the Southern white man, who is his next door neighbor, I would say: "Cast down your bucket where you are"--cast it down in making friends ....'" This is just the kind of accommodationist thinking--straight out of Up From Slavery--that the white audience wants to hear, and which is likely to get a young black man anointed by whites as a black spokesman. Christ's admonition to "Love they neighbor ..." has special meaning when thy neighbor was once thy owner, which is another way of saying that history warns us against "loving thy Niebhur" to the point of believing in the transcendence of any virtue. Ellison makes sure his reader understands the irony of such words being spoken immediately after their speaker was subjected to a violent and demeaning ritual. "I did not realize," says the enthusiastic narrator, "that the men were still talking and laughing until my dry mouth, filling up with blood from the cut, almost strangled me" (30). A vicious call-and-response ensues, when Invisible Man utters the phrase social responsibility--a staple of "virtue talk"--and the audience laughs and shouts at him to repeat it. Eventually, of course, the word equality slips in for responsibility: An entire discourse of history and progress intrudes into an otherwise farcical example of moralizing-at-the-expense-of-historical-consciousness.

So far, then, Ellison refuses to allow morals to substitute for politics. Toward the novel's end, however, Brother Jack castigates Invisible Man for his eulogy of Tod Clifton, setting the stage for a sharp Ellisonian critique of Brotherhood dogma, to complement the exposure of white American "ideology" discussed above. The Brotherhood has its own notion of what constitutes right action, and loyalty to the group is an absolute prerequisite. There is no ambivalence in its attitude toward Clifton: He was a traitor, and deserved condemnation. On what basis did Invisible Man decide to praise him?" 'We tried again and again to reach the committee for guidance but we couldn't,' "he pleads in self-defense. "'So we went ahead on my personal responsibility.'"

Now the connotation of the word responsibility has been reversed. In another context a tool for repressing historical consciousness, it is now just the kind of virtue talk--a reminder of the importance of individual initiative--needed to challenge an entirely historical consciousness. No wonder, then, that it evokes such a hostile response. "'What was that?'" Brother Jack asks, recapitulating the cruel call-and-response format of the battle royal speech. "'Did you hear that, Brothers? Did I hear him correctly? Where did you get it, Brother? This is astounding ...'" (463). That Brother Jack responds to the concept of "responsibility" with as much hostility as the battle royal audience responds to the word equality shows that both ways of thinking--one blind to the continuing importance of historical injustice, and one narrowly focused on a particular version of oppression--are hopelessly limited.

We know from essays like "Twentieth Century Fiction and the Black Mask of Humanity" and "Brave Words for a Startling Occasion" the great weight Ellison gave to "responsibility" in its broadest sense. He criticized twentieth-century American fiction (Faulkner excepted) for failing to portray black people as complex human beings, and credited earlier novelists Twain and Melville for taking "a much greater responsibility for the condition of democracy" (Shadow and Act 104). Such responsibility embraces the full range of a writer's imagination, requires a supple historical understanding, and precludes the chance of his being duped by any ideology. It is a long way from a Booker T. Washingtonian accommodationism.

It is an equally long way, though, from a deterministic understanding of history which values individuals only insofar as they embody historical principles. After Invisible Man's eviction speech, the Brotherhood, even while praising him, immediately begins indoctrinating him in its "scientific" methodology. The way Brother Jack and other members respond to Invisible Man's orations is telling. These speeches--complex, fluid texts--promise to elude programmatic interpretations. Indeed Invisible Man himself often seems to lack control over the momentum of his own words--as if even he is surprised by the emergence of the term equality before the white audience. His eviction speech is certainly a tour de force, his repetition of the term law abiding (an echo of social responsibility) gathering ironic power much like Marc Antony's repetition of the word honorable in Shakespeare's Julius Caesar, until its original pacifying force is reversed and it helps to feed the crowd's indignation. But did he know he would use irony to such clever effect even a moment before he began doing so? It seems unlikely. Invisible Man becomes an actor in history when he delivers such speeches, but the forces which motivate him to speak the words he does are shadowy even to him. The texts of his speeches, as I said, defy any programmatic reading (they expose the false arrogance of all would-be literary critics), but none more than the kinds of readings supplied by the Brotherhood.

In indoctrinating Invisible Man, Brother Jack compares him to Booker T. Washington. (In so doing, he anoints a certain kind of racial spokesman, useful for Communist Party purposes, in much the same way the racist Southern whites anointed a well-behaved high school graduate as a useful model of black citizenship for their purposes.) Invisible Man counters that he admires the "Founder" more than Booker T., and then his indoctrination ensues:

"So it isn't a matter of whether you wish to be the new Booker T. Washington, my friend. Booker T. Washington was resurrected today at a certain eviction in Harlem....There is a scientific explanation for this phenomenon....We are all realists here, and materialists. This morning you answered the people's appeal and we want you to be the true interpreter of the people. You shall be the new Booker T. Washington, but evengreater than he." (307)

This interpretation of Invisible Man's speech about Brotherhood ideology reveals stark contrasts between this ideology and numerous uncertainties and convictions of Invisible Man's at novel's end. First of all, this interpretation states that individuals and their "wishes" are of trivial importance compared to dialectical logic. History declares Invisible Man the new Booker T., so he is. Au contraire, explains our hero, in his wise ambivalence: "You go along for years knowing something is first you tell yourself that it's due to the 'political situation.' But deep down you come to suspect that you're yourself to blame..." (575). Ellison calls individuals to account for society's shortcomings, and for their own failure to actualize their uniqueness; he is incredulous toward elaborate theories of history which say this or that is determined to happen. Invisible Man might have allowed himself to be molded into an imperfect replica of Booker T., but this would have been an act of personal irresponsibi lity on his part, not the fulfillment of a "scientific" law.

Brother Jack's interpretation reminds us, second of all, that he thinks every theory his organization formulates is "scientific," "realistic," "material." Over the course of the novel, its hero, and we, come to realize how wildly speculative, hopelessly abstract--and wrong--Jack can be. During his reefer-induced fantasy in the prologue, Invisible Man describes a prizefighter boxing a yokel:

The fighter was swift and amazingly scientific....He hit the yokel a hundred times while the yokel held up his arms in stunned surprise. But suddenly the yokel, rolling about in the gale of boxing gloves, struck one blow and knocked science, speed and footwork as cold as a well-digger's posterior. (8)

Does Invisible Man identify with the "yokel?" He was something of a Southern yokel when he first arrived in Harlem, even when the Brotherhood first assimilated and began indoctrinating him. Certainly he would love to strike a blow against Brother Jack as powerful as the yokel's. The term science in this context has a bitterly ironic connotation, much as will the term avant-garde at the beginning of the Epilogue.

For the word's interpretation reveals, third, that Brotherhood ideology is marred by an extreme avantgardist arrogance. A "true" interpreter of the people will be anointed, one who will be able to speak for the people better than they for themselves. After Invisible Man's first planned Brotherhood speech, given in a prizefighting ring (should this location remind us that the last time he spoke in a boxing ring he marshaled platitudes of another, equally oppressive ideology?), Brother Jack looks back out at the crowd and remarks," 'Look at them, just waiting to be told what to do!'" (348). At such moments Ellison provides loud and clear clues for the reader as to the moral character of this organization; but for Invisible Man, swept up in the action upon which we spectate, such clues take longer to register.

Eventually, though, they do. "I do not know whether accepting the lesson"--the protagonist says of his adventures throughout the novel, and their implications--"has placed me in the rear or in the avant-garde. That, perhaps, is a lesson for history, and I'll leave such decisions to Jack and his ilk while I try belatedly to study the lesson of my own life." (572) The notion that history has a "rear" or an "avantgarde" consciousness no longer has any meaning for him now that he has traveled underground, and begun to reflect upon how the Brotherhood considers the lives and safety of black Harlemites expendable, in history's dialectical march toward (their conception of) justice. Would the little man at Chehaw Station, one wonders, find himself anywhere near an historical "avant-garde"? If not, what do we learn about the relevance of this term to American cultural and political life?

For these and other reasons, the novel as a whole roundly critiques the Brotherhood's response to/interpretation of Invisible Man's eviction speech. Wouldn't a more appropriate interpretation pay closer attention to the psychology of the black community in question, perhaps even to the psychology of the speaker? In "Brave Words for a Startling Occasion," Ellison describes the works of Melville and Twain as "imaginative projections of the conflicts within the human heart which arose when the sacred principles of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights clashed with the practical exigencies of human greed and fear, hate and love" (Shadow and Act 104). Ellison's reading of Melville, Twain, and America's founding documents tells us several things about his view of history, in contrast to the Brotherhood's. First, forces like "human greed and fear," "hate," and "love" have some permanent relevance; they are not mere accidents of an historical phase; in fact they persist even in the face of "sacred principles" which may operate against them in history. Niebhur, in other words, belonged very much to the same American intellectual milieu during which Ellison produced his novel. Second, there is something sacred in American ideals; they are not necessarily ideological veils any more than the notion of responsibility is necessarily such a veil. (So Ellison makes clear in more than one essay; but his novel refuses to espouse such a confident faith in these ideals. Perhaps the novel, as a genre, is friendlier to ambivalence than the essay is, more antipathetic to confident conclusions or professions of faith. At any rate, Invisible Man is stronger for not being so explicitly patriotic, however much it may participate in New Liberal anticommunism.) Third, Ellison, like Hegel, tends to psychologize history, whereas the Brotherhood (in keeping with the materialist traditions of Marxist philosophy) prefers to historicize (if not entirely to ignore) individual psychology. The "conflicts of the human heart" matter to Ellison, where as Jack doesn't care what Invisible Man might "wish" once his role in history has been ordained.

However in keeping Ellison was with the anticommunist drift of American New Liberalism, not all readers were equally pleased by the large portion of Invisible Man dedicated to exposing the predations of the Brotherhood. In a 1955 interview, the author was accused of "calling up conventional emotions" in order to cancel

the provocative situation of the American Negro's status in society. The responsibility for this is that of the white American; that's where the guilt lies. Then you cancel it by introducing the Communist Party, or the Brotherhood, so that the reader tends to say to himself: "Ah, they're the guilty ones. They're the ones who mistreat him; not us." (Shadow and Act 179)

I agree with Ellison--though not for exactly the same reasons as he gives in this interview--that this accusation is not supported by the text of Invisible Man. I fail to see how white America can ever be let off the hook after a powerful group of white Southern men throws a blindfolded group of black men into a ring until they beat each other to a pulp, then taunts them with a naked white female body, and further brutalizes them by paying them for their degradation with electrocution. The cruelty of this scene is not, and cannot be, canceled by anything the Brotherhood does: Its images--perhaps the novel's most vivid--burn themselves into the reader's mind. Admittedly, the Communists and white Southerners form a thematic double in several instances; for example, each pits black people against black people--one in a boxing ring, the other in the streets of Harlem. But this pairing only serves to magnify the evil of each, not to excuse either. One of the Brotherhood's great intellectual weaknesses, as I mentio ned earlier, is its refusal to see race as a generating force in history; Ellison slyly tells his interviewers, "I'll remind you that they, too, [the Brotherhood] are white." Whatever the faults of these criticisms of the novel, they remind us that Invisible Man's reception history was complicated by the author's race in ways that the receptions of other New Liberal texts were not.

Nevertheless, as I have argued throughout this essay, Invisible Man's status as a black writer's critique of white American oppression is not compromised by its further status as an American critique of Stalinist ideology. Just as Du Bois ever feels his "two-ness" as an American and a Negro, so this reader feels the two-ness of Ellison's novel, and thereby admires it all the more. Perhaps I should say its "three-ness," for it functions not just as (1) a sophisticated exploration of the psychology of American racism, with the help of Hegelian and Du Boisian concepts and (2) a classic American expression of democratic and anti-totalitarian values, but also as (3) an Afro-American critique of Communism. In this final context its similarities and differences with Richard Wright's autobiography provide a useful general (variegated) map of an important, shared, mid-century intellectual journey.

Wright, Ellison, and the CP's Responsiveness to Black Needs

Much of this section will explore the similarities in Richard Wright's and Invisible Man's disillusionments with CP ideology. But I would be remiss if I failed to review the broad differences in their journeys as well: Wright, who embraced Communist ideals, and was particularly impressed with the absence of racism among his fellow Chicago radicals, many of whom formed interracial couples, was kicked out of the Party. The reader of Invisible Man, on the other hand, sees the Brotherhood as being at least partially corrupt from the beginning, particularly with regard to race, given its treatment of the protagonist as, alternately, a sexual and cultural curiosity or, in his own words, a "natural resource." Rather than being kicked out of the organization, he leaves it. Far from feeling, with Wright, that "I'll be for them even though they are not for me" (Black Boy 442). Invisible Man decides that, since they're not for him and his people, he's not for them. Wright is plagued with a "double-consciousness" vis-a-v is the Party in specific; Ellison's hero, while himself plagued with many forms of ambivalence, is able to make a cleaner spiritual break from the group.

Given this important difference, though, in the denouement of each figure's relationship with the Party, what doubts and ambivalences do they share during the course of their memberships? What causes each to resist certain strains of Party ideology? Each--in spite of the degree to which he has been denied the rich promise of Western humanism in general, and American democracy in particular--never comes to believe that these ideals are shams. Indeed, it is the humanistic promise of radical politics that makes a radical of each in the first place. Wright's autobiography ends with him alone "in [his] narrow room"--not all that different an ending place from Invisible Man's underground hideout. He speaks, even after his devastating expulsion from a Party that had once filled him with a hope he had otherwise never known, of "a hunger ... to keep alive. . . the inexpressibly human" (453). On the same note, Invisible Man, during his single planned speech for the Brotherhood, tells his audience in a husky whisper, "' I feel suddenly that I have become more human'" (346). The African American's pleading on behalf of his humanity may, unfortunately, be a well-worn tale by now; but rarely is the quest so movingly enacted as in these two texts.

For Wright and for Ellison's hero, this quest is informed throughout by a powerful philosophical impulse, a respect for Western ideals, and for the power Western (or American) culture has in defining one's personality. I alluded above to the "sacred principles," as Ellison called them, of America's founding documents. One reason Ras's philosophy appears so ridiculous in Ellison's tale is that it is so disconnected from the hero's immediate existential dilemma. How will he become as human as possible in America, in New York? If the ideals of Bledsoe and Norton are shams, what of the Brotherhood's? Do they point the hero toward a spiritually richer existence among his American contemporaries, in what Ellison would consider his only real homeland? Ras's exhortations aren't much help in answering these pressing questions.

Richard Wright responds similarly to dogmatic nostalgia for Africa. His criticism of Garveyites echoes his criticism of Communists in telling ways, and contains one of the many professions throughout Black Boy of Wright's undeniably Western identity. "Those Garveyites ... would never understand why I liked them but could never follow them," he explains, foreshadowing his self-contradictory attitude toward the Communists who are "not for him." "I pitied them too much to tell them," he continues, "that they were people of the West and would forever be so until they either merged with the West or perished" (337). Wright and Invisible Man, then, enter the world of dialectical class struggle from this angle: They are Westerners, Americans, not susceptible to a "totally racialistic outlook" (Wright 336). This may be in many ways a distressing fate--given the disregard for black humanity of which the West and America have long been guilty--but they cannot escape it.

This fate, this position, is not without its liberatory potential, however. The quintessential Western values of individualism and free thought help each protagonist to struggle against the various limitations--material, social, intellectual--with which he is faced. Ironically (given the CP's initial promise as a vehicle for liberation), the Party comes to embody a particularly menacing form of limitation for each. Wright encapsulates the irony poignantly:

It was irrational that Communists should hate what they called "intellectuals," or anybody who tried to think for himself. I had fled men who did not like the color of my skin, and now I was among men who did not like the tone of my thoughts. (435)

Wright's "tones" may share much with the "frequencies" on which Ellison hopes

to reach individual readers, from within his private underground psychological space.

In recognizing the individual nature of this readership, this audience, Invisible Man makes the beginning of a decisive intellectual break from the Brotherhood. Upon completing his eulogy for Tod Clifton, he tells the reader, "as I took one last look I saw not a crowd but the set faces of individual men and women" (459). For Brother Jack, individuals (even entire communities) are expendable, if the historical dialectic so dictates. A dogma that cannot assimilate the little man at Chehaw Station into its own logic disregards him as of no importance. Ellison eschews such dogma. Meanwhile, a dogma that cannot accommodate Wright's relentlessly questioning disposition (his tendency to ambivalence, which he shares with Invisible Man) may inevitably eye him with violent intent as well. Yet this only intensifies the irony with which Wright eyes his comrades, for in their intolerance they betray their own noble ideals:

The heritage of free thought,--which no man could escape if he read at all,--the spirit of the Protestant ethic which one suckled, figuratively, with one's mother's milk, that self-generating energy that made a man feel, whether he realized it or not, that he had to work and redeem himself through his own acts, all this was forbidden, taboo. And yet this was the essence of that cultural heritage which the Communist party had sworn to carry forward, whole and intact, into the future. But the Communist party did not recognize the values that it had sworn to save when it saw them; the smallest sign of any independence of thought or feeling, even if it aided the party in its work, was enough to make one suspect, to brand one as a dangerous traitor. (436)

Wright's valorization of "the Protestant ethic" parallels Invisible Man's assertion of "personal responsibility." As with Invisible Man, Wright would likely not have come to value this spirit so greatly had he not seen it so directly challenged by a radically anti-individualist world view.

Invisible Man does not explicate Brotherhood intolerance in such painstaking detail, but does dramatize it repeatedly. I alluded above to Brother Jack's ejaculation" 'Look at them, just waiting to be told what to do!' "after the protagonist's speech in the prizefighting ring; this is only one of many frightening moments. "'There's nothing like isolating a man to make him think,'" Invisible Man tells his comrades during his post-Clifton-eulogy interrogation. Jack retorts," 'You were not hired to think. Had you forgotten that? If so, listen to me: you were not hired to think'" (469). One reason this moment is so frightening is the sense of deja vu that comes with it. Much earlier in his journey, Invisible Man landed in a paint factory, where his boss Kimbro instructed him," 'You just do what you're told and don't try to think about it'" (200). If the capitalist system--embodied archetypally by Liberty Paints--turns its workers into such thoughtless drones, then no wonder some of them are radicalized. But if th e Brotherhood treats them, and their capacity for free individual thought, with the same contempt, where are they to turn?

Each protagonist arrives at the same conclusion about the organization to which he once belonged, and about its dogma: It's too simple--social reality is more complex, and eludes theory more consistently, than simple party dogma admits. In fact, simple is just the word Wright uses, and repeats, in order to communicate the peculiar "tone" of his personal disdain. We recall that he had "pitied" the Garveyites for their failure to understand themselves as "people of the West"; his moral attitude toward them is crystallized in the following summation: "Theirs was a passionate rejection of America, for they sensed with that directness of which only the simple are capable that they had no chance to live a full human life in America" (336). And the Communists come in for this acid criticism on a slew of occasions. "I could not refute the general Communist analysis of the world," he admits; "the only drawback was that their world was just too simple for belief" (349). Wright proceeds to develop a rather elaborate ir onic parallel between a Communist speaker ranting on behalf of atheism and the religion he means to condemn: His style mirrors that of a Pentecostal preacher manipulating a stupefied audience. They are behaving like "irresponsible children," Wright says of the agitators who treat their parishioners in this manner. Later, as his trial and expulsion near, some of his friends in the Party inform him that they are trying to "save" him (433)--to which he responds with appropriate bafflement. Again these sophisticated radicals evince the simplicity of devout people--brainwashed devotees.

In spite of his inclination to be bitterly patronizing, though, Wright retains the ambivalence of a true doubting Westerner. Hence he abandons the Party in his heart (it having physically expelled him) in the most nostalgic of moods: "I knew in my heart that I would never be able to write that way again, would never be able to feel with that simple sharpness about life, would never again express such passionate hope, would never again make so total a commitment of faith" (451). Here his use of the word simple, while not without its patronizing quality, is imbued with a regret almost as deep as Wordsworth's for his lost childhood. Yes, the Communists may be childlike in their enthusiasm, but they are to be envied for this as well as condemned.

Simple is not Ellison's word of choice, though he brings the Brotherhood in for a similar critique. Whereas Wright's ambivalence--his distinctively Western-intellectual mark--appears in his attitude toward the CP itself (as well as his attitude toward America, toward himself, etc.), Ellison develops his hero's ambivalence as a metaphorical motif. Rather than repeating the word simple, he repeats formulations like the following: "I wanted to leave him, and yet I found a certain comfort in walking along beside him" (175) in reference to Peter Wheatstraw, the jive-talking blues man he encounters in New York. After being reminded of his childhood by some racy lyrics, Invisible Man adds, "I didn't know whether it was pride or disgust that suddenly flashed over me" (177). At Mary Rambo's house he speaks of "inwardly rejecting and yet accepting her bossing" (252). When he sees Clifton perform on the street with a Sambo doll, to the audience's delight, he struggles "between the desire to join in the laughter and to leap upon it with both feet" (432). When he defends the recently-deceased Clifton, Invisible Man asserts, "'...he was a man and a Negro; a man and a brother; a man and a traitor, as you say...alive or dead he was jam-full of contradictions'" (467). During his reefer-induced fantasy, the "old woman singing a spiritual" tells him that she dearly loved her master. "He gave me several sons...and because I loved my sons I learned to love their father though I hated him too" (10). And on and on. Such descriptions of psychological paradox form a continuous thread in Invisible Man. Crucially, none of the paradoxes is resolved. They are artfully woven by the author, perhaps fretted over by his hero; but for Ellison, to pretend that they could be resolved would be to seek a false haven.

This is his roundabout way of calling Brotherhood ideology "simple," for Jack would not be satisfied to let a contradiction remain unresolved. To Jack, Clifton was not "jam-full of contradictions" but unambiguously treacherous. Whether by the violence of an intellectual attitude which brooks no disagreement, or by a literal incitement to physical violence (at the expense of a black community), Jack would strain for a "synthesis" to any contradiction (to return to Hegelian/Marxist terminology). But just as America's founders, in their day, repudiated Old World superstitions, and Ralph Waldo Emerson, in his day, warned against religious conformity, so the New Liberal Ralph Waldo Ellison and the one-time Communist Richard Wright, in their complex times, instinctively mistrusted a totalizing world view which insisted on answers and resolutions where they saw ironies, paradoxes, questions to be asked, contradictions to be patiently examined, with no necessary promise of immediate resolution.

The bitterest irony of all the CP's hypocrisies and other moral shortcomings, though, where Wright and Ellison are directly concerned, lies in its distance from the masses of black individuals on behalf of whom it claims to battle. There are vivid reasons for both Invisible Man and Richard Wright to sympathize with the class struggle, and equivalently painful reasons for each to abandon the struggle (as the Party embodies it). Wright recounts long hours spent at the relief station during which "black minds shed many illusions." He muses on the blindness of the ruling class in permitting--virtually arranging--such an assembly:

To permit the birth of this new consciousness in these people was proof that those who ruled did not quite know what they were .... Had they understood what was happening, they would never have allowed millions of perplexed and defeated people to sit together for long hours and talk, for out of their talk was rising a new realization of life.

And Wright allows that "some of the things the Communists said were true" (353-54).

The scene he describes would pique the reader's hope for a party to give voice to the common sufferings of these many people, shape to their grievance. The reader would virtually be ready to join these unemployed people behind a Communist banner--would be, I say, were it not that, only a few pages earlier, in likening the atheistic Communist speakers to the religious figures they condemn, Wright had so thoroughly exposed the harmfulness of "irresponsible" ranting:

I saw that a vast distance separated the agitators from the masses, a distance so vast that the agitators did not know how to appeal to the people they sought to lead.... An hour's listening disclosed the fanatical intolerance of minds sealed against new ideas, new facts, new feelings .... Communism, instead of making [the eager, listening crowd] leap forward with fire in their hearts to become masters of ideas and life, had frozen them at an even lower level of ignorance than had been theirs before they met Communism. (346-48)

From a group so free of intolerance toward interracial sexual relations between its young members, mistakes in judgment, as "an hour's listening" reveals, are painful indeed.

And painful above all is Wright's expulsion. He is invited, well after his trial concludes, to join a May Day march by a fellow black party member. But Cy Perry, a white member, verbally assaults him; Wright feels himself "lifted bodily from the sidewalk" and "pitched headlong through the air." In and of itself, such brutal treatment at the hands of recent allies is frightening enough. But this cruelty is intensified because, as Wright explains, "I had suffered a public physical assault by two white Communists with black Communists looking on" (450).

Communism, in as vivid a manner as possible, has separated him from his natural allies. The irony of this situation is extremely complex, for one of Communism's central critiques of capitalism is that this exploitative economic system pits natural allies (workers) against one another: Class consciousness, guided by the revolutionary party, is meant to heal this wound. And Wright has not been remiss, over the course of Black Boy, in diagnosing this wound throughout American society. Southern whites engineer a fistfight (286) for their own sick entertainment, between Wright and Harrison, another young black man (reminiscent of Ellison's battle royal). In a Chicago hospital, for no particular reason, Brand and Cooke, Wright's two fellow black employees, hate each other and spend a good part of each day quarreling. In other words, Wright happily borrows from Marx the notion that oppressed people are often pitted against one an other by the system which oppresses them. He understands the "simple sharpness" of Comm unist philosophy because he agrees with it, at least with certain important insights it offers. And yet he sees the Party recapitulating the same oppressive dynamics (in very complex forms) which it so impressively recognizes in capitalist society, and so valiantly opposes.

Invisible Man's experiences, like Wright's, then, point him toward radicalism. He sees in Brockway the ugly result of capitalist exploitation: an old black man, out only for himself, convinced that he's being treated well by his employers, who in fact use him like a natural resource. But immediately upon his indoctrination into radical class politics, he learns the same bitter truth about his comrades that Wright eventually learns in hearing religion denounced with preacher-like showmanship. Or, to put it more precisely, from his first moment of contact with them, Invisible Man's comrades reveal their avant-gardist arrogance, their insensitivity to the ties that bind black Americans to one another--though Invisible Man is not immediately cognizant of the full import of this arrogance. Jack recruits Invisible Man immediately after the latter's eviction speech, praising him for his oratorical skills, but counseling him not to waste his emotions on individuals, who don't count:

"These people are old. Men grow old and types of men grow old....they'll be cast aside. They're dead, you see, because they're incapable of rising to the necessity of the historical situation."

"But I like them," I said. "I like them, they reminded me of folks I know down South."

"Oh no, brother; you're mistaken and you're sentimental. You're not like them." (291)

It took awhile for the CP to drive a wedge between Wright and his fellow African Americans. But in Ellison's novel, Brother Jack wastes no time in beginning this process. Perhaps this is a sign of Wright's more ambivalent attitude toward the Party to which he once belonged, and of Ellison's more unquestioning anticommunism. In his Introduction to The God That Failed, Richard Crossman says of three former Party members that Ignazio "Silone, [Arthur] Koestler and Richard Wright ... will never escape from Communism. Their lives will always be lived inside its dialectic, and their battle against the Soviet Union will always be a reflection of a searing inner struggle. The true ex-Communist can never again be a whole personality" (11). A central theme of this essay, following what I see as central themes in Ellison and Du Bois, is the difficulty of an African American attaining a "whole personality." So Ellison may not share with Wright the particular splintering of a deconverted convert from the greatest religion -of-history ever devised, but he does by all means share the aesthetically useful burden of psychic complexity, conflicting loyalties. Crossman credits Koestler with making a career's worth of art from his "searing inner struggle" with Communism; I give similar credit to the author of Invisible Man and his ongoing struggle with America's "sacred principles" and sordid realities.

But whatever his uncertainties as both an American and a black American, and however basic ambivalence is as a structuring motif in his novel, Ellison leaves no room for uncertainty in the reader's moral attitude toward the Brotherhood. [7] To the degree that Invisible Man is ever duped by this group, an equivalent ironic distance emerges between him and the reader, who is made to feel this irony for many reasons discussed already--not least among them is the Brotherhood's refusal to acknowledge the importance of race." 'Why do you fellows always talk in terms of race?'" Jack snaps at Invisible Man during their first meeting. "'What other terms do you know?'" responds the protagonist. "'You think I would have been around if they [the evicted elderly couple] had been white?'" (298). In this initial exchange the reader can see much of the future relationship between the two foreshadowed. If only the protagonist--we lament--had further followed the impulse behind this prescient response, he might have spared hi mself much suffering. (Of course, then, we would be deprived of the latter half of Invisible Man.)

The reader--already impatient with Jack's exploitation of the hero--grows infuriated when Jack repeats, after the Clifton eulogy, "'You're riding race again.... Our job is not to ask them [black Harlemites] what they think, but to tell them!'" (469). And the reader is exhilarated--in no small measure relieved--when Invisible Man retorts, "'Wouldn't it be better if they called you Marse Jack?'" (473). For throughout Invisible Man's relationship with the organization (contrary to Wright's experience), he has been treated as an exotic Other, whether for his presumed sexual potency, or his supposed singing and dancing skills. Whereas Wright exposes the CP for recapitulating the capitalist tragedy of pitting natural allies against one another, but credits his comrades with being beyond racist intent, Ellison doesn't stop at exposing Jack's arrogance, in his comments like "'You're not like them.'" Ellison's radical white characters are poisoned by the same racist attitudes as is the general society.

The "mid-century black intellectual journey," then, of which Wright and Ellison provide divergent but overlapping examples, ends with its questing hero in a state of profound ambivalence. For where was a morally earnest young African American to turn, when Bledsoe had been revealed as a scoundrel, Norton as blind, and the Brotherhood as corrupt? What faith--social, intellectual, aesthetic--could be worthy of his commitment? The lack of a clear answer to this question is what gives Ellison's novel, especially, its piquancy. Just as Wright is left, alone in his narrow room, hungering for a sense of the inexpressibly human, so Ellison's hero--disillusioned of the various dogmas which fail to grapple with America's complex cultural ambiguities with sufficient irony and ambivalence--is left underground, searching for a "socially responsible role to play" (581), a "lower frequency" along which to connect with an individual listener/reader. And, tuning into this frequency, the reader is left, like Invisible Man, wi th no resolution to the many ironies and contradictions to which he has been exposed. The Brotherhood, from its first appearance in the novel, is revealed as far more hypocritical than the society it would have revolutionized according to its "science." And so the reader, like the alienated hero, must go on thinking, searching, questioning...

Jesse Wolfe is a Ph.D student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison whose interests include African American literature, Modernist literature, and philosophy.


(1.) The God That Failed compiles the testimonies of three former CP members (including Richard Wright) and three "fellow travelers," concerning their deconversion from Communist ideals. It thus links Wright's intellectual journey to (and contrasts it with) that of European radicals. As the book's title indicates, it likens faith in Communism to religious faith, a connection I pursue in discussing Wright in the final section of this essay.

(2.) See the discussion of "Twentieth Century Fiction and the Black Mask of Humanity" below.

(3.) Frantz Fanon theorizes this dynamic in the psychic life of all black people: "The black man... does not know at what moment his inferiority comes into being through the other" (110). Later he differentiates between the French Negro and the American Negro, for in the case of the latter, "there are laws that, little by little, are invalidated under the Constitution." (221) For Ellison, too, the existence of the Constitution as a moral ideal largely defines the black American's struggle for social dignity.

(4.) See Shadow and Act 66 and if.

(5.) See Going to the Territory 3-38.

(6.) Throughout my discussion in section two I rely heavily on Schaub's American Fiction in the Cold War 1-24 and 91-115.

(7.) Critics disagreed on the convincingness of Ellison's representation of CP apparatchiks. Many on the left understandably resented the vehemence of Ellison's attacks. Irving Howe--who constructed himself as an anti-dogmatic critic, and with whom Ellison engaged in spirited critical debates--accuses Invisible Man of being marred by the ideological delusions of the 1950s. "The middle section of Ellison's novel, dealing with the Harlem Communists, does not ring quite true, in the way a good portion of the writings on this theme during the post-War years does not ring quite true. Ellison makes his Stalinist figures so vicious and stupid that one cannot understand how they could ever have attracted him or any other Negro" (101). Anthony West, on the other hand, asserts that "there is [in Invisible Man] perhaps the best description of rank-and-file Communist Party activity that has yet appeared in an American novel. The endless committee discussions of tactics, and the postmortems after the hero's speeches, in w hich the nature and extent of his departures from 'correct' lines are thrashed out, have an absolute authenticity" (104-05).

Works Cited

Crossman, Richard, ed. The God That Failed. New York: Harper, 1949.

Ellison, Ralph. Going to the Territory. New York: Vintage, 1987.

-----. In visible Man. 1952. New York: Vintage, 1980.

-----. Shadow and Act. New York: Vintage, 1964.

Fanon, Frantz. Black Skin, While Masks. New York: Grove, 1967.

Hegel, Georg. The Philosophy of Hegel. Ed. Carl J. Friedrich. New York: Random, 1953.

Howe, Irving. "Black Boys and Native Sons." Reilly 100-02.

Reilly, John M., ed. Twentieth Century Interpretations of Invisible Man. New Jersey: Prentice, 1970.

Schaub, Thomas. American Fiction in the Cold War. Madison: U of Wisconsin P, 1991.

Washington, Booker T. Up From Slavery. 1901. New York: Airmont, 1967.

West, Anthony. "Black Man's Burden." Reilly 102-06.

Wright, Richard. Black Boy. 1945. New York: HarperCollins, 1993.
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Author:Wolfe, Jesse
Publication:African American Review
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Date:Dec 22, 2000
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