Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man


The Liberty Paint Factory in provides
the setting for a very significant chain of events in the novel. In
addition, it provides many symbols which will influence a reader's
interpretation. Some of those symbols are associated with the structure
itself, with Mr. Kimbro, and with Mr. Lucius Brockway.

The first of many instances in these scenes that concern the invisible
man and the symbolic role of white and black in the novel is when the
narrator is sent to the paint factory by the young Mr. Emerson to try to
find a job. Mr. Emerson, however, only sends him out of pity. The
narrator arrives and immediately notices the huge electric sign that reads
"KEEP AMERICA PURE WITH LIBERTY ...

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how to make the ordinary white
paint into "Optic White": Ten drops of a black formula must be mixed in to
the white paint, of which the surface is already brown. The narrator does
not understand this, and inquires about it, only to be insulted by Mr.
Kimbro. Mr. Kimbro, in no way what so ever, wants any of his workers to
think. He just wants them to obey. So the invisible man, although still
unable to comprehend this idiosyncrasy, does not persist. The white paint
may represent the white world, perhaps even America, as alluded to in the
company's advertisement. The black formula is what makes the white paint
into "Optic White", a much better, whiter, white. The formula, perhaps,
represents the behind the scenes blacks that worked for the whites so that
society persisted as it did in that time period. This idea will be touched
upon once again later on in this series of scenes.

The invisible man then falls victim to a bad set of circumstances. He
runs out of formula, ...

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"Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man." Essayworld.com. December 26, 2003. Accessed March 24, 2017. http://www.essayworld.com/essays/Ralph-Ellisons-Invisible-Man/510.
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Added: 12/26/2003 06:35:56 PM
Category: Book Reports
Words: 1015
Pages: 4

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