Invisible Man: Prologue - Chapter 2

Contributor: Melissa Kowalski. Lesson ID: 12547

Wouldn't it be cool to be invisible? That depends on what invisible means. If it means you're treated like you're invisible, then it's not so cool. Learn what it means to be true to yourself!


Literary Studies

learning style
personality style
Grade Level
High School (9-12)
Lesson Type
Dig Deeper

Lesson Plan - Get It!

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  • Have you ever wanted to be invisible? Why or why not?
  • What does it mean to be invisible?

The term invisible refers to something that cannot be seen with the naked eye or easily detected by ordinary means.

  • According to this definition, a person can't be invisible, right?

In his 1952 novel Invisible Man, Ralph Ellison challenges this definition of invisibility, claiming that people can be invisible.

  • How is this possible?

As you read the novel, you will learn what Ellison means by invisible.

To understand the story, it is important to know more about the author, Ralph Ellison. Examine Ellison's life and career with the resources below.

After exploring both sources, answer the following questions in a notebook or journal that you will use to record your work for this entire series of Related Lessons.

  • For which subject did Ellison earn a scholarship in college?
  • What college did Ellison attend?
  • Which two writers did Ellison meet while working in Harlem during college?
  • What career did Ellison pursue while developing his authorial style?
  • What was Ellison's role in World War II?
  • After publishing Invisible Man, what career did Ellison pursue?
  • What happened to the manuscript of Ellison's second novel in 1967?
  • When did Ellison die?

After answering these questions independently, check your answers by clicking below.

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Once you've reviewed your answers, you can begin reading Invisible Man.

You will need a copy of the novel to complete this series of Related Lessons (right-hand sidebar). You can purchase or borrow the book in paper or digital format. Choose the one you are most comfortable reading.

If you cannot access the novel, you may download Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison from the Internet Archive.

When you have your novel copy, read the Prologue, Chapter 1, and Chapter 2.

As you read, take notes on the concepts Ellison raises in the first part of the text. Look for references to the following terms. Note when they are used and what they mean in that section of the novel's context.

  invisibility social responsibility White
  identity social equality Black
  light fate  


When you have finished your reading and note-taking, move to the Got It? section to explore the ideas of the novel's first part in more detail.

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