Invisible Man: Prologue - Chapter Two

Contributor: Melissa Kowalski. Lesson ID: 12547

Wouldn't it be cool to be invisible? That depends on what "invisible" means. If it means you are treated like you are invisible then it's not so cool. Learn what it means to be true to your true self!


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? What does it mean to be invisible?

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, invisible means "incapable by nature of being seen or inaccessible to view, hidden."

  • However, according to this definition, a person can't really be invisible, right?

Ralph Ellison, in his 1952 novel, Invisible Man, 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 begin to understand the novel, it is important to know more about the author, Ralph Ellison. To learn more about him, read A Biography of Ralph Ellison, by Adrien-Alice Hansel (Huntington Theatre Company), and explore Ralph Ellison: An American Journey Career Timeline (WNET), and examine the timeline of Ellison's life and career. 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.

After answering these questions on your own, check your answers by clicking on each:

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Once you've reviewed your answers, you are ready to begin reading Invisible Man. First, you will need to obtain a copy of the novel. You can use either a print copy that you can find at a local library or bookstore or you can purchase a digital copy that you can download to an electronic device of your choice. You will use the same copy of the novel for the entire series, so choose a format you are comfortable with for reading.

When you have your copy of the novel, read the Prologue, Chapter One, and Chapter Two. Take notes as you read on the concepts that Ellison raises in this first part of the text. Look for references to the following terms:

  • invisibility
  • identity
  • light
  • social responsibility
  • social equality
  • fate
  • white
  • black

Note when they are used and what they mean in the context where Ellison uses them in this part of the novel.

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

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