Blues, Spirituals, and African American Novel
The Invisible Man or the Invisible Woman
In Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man, his novels tells a story of a educated African American on a quest a to find his true identity. Throughout his life, he has been controlled and oppressed by white men in order for him to make a name for himself. He tells his own story as the narrator and he journey’s from the South where he attends an all-black college to finally Harlem where he joins cult-like political party called the Brotherhood. The narrator is handed these roles throughout the book, whether it is a driver, a student, a worker, or a party member, which ...view middle of the document...
Mr. Norton’s daughter, Hubert’s wife, Emma, Sybil and the Naked Blonde, symbolizes these portrayals. The novel's most notable white women are highly sexualized and are used by the novel's men by means of that sexuality. These women, especially the Naked Blonde and Sybil, are demoted to the role of the stereotypical white seductress who is attracted to the equally stereotypical sexual interest of the black man. The Naked Blonde, with a "small American flag tattooed upon her belly," (Ellison 19) dances for the narrator and the other black boys before the Battle Royal and is recognized as an obvious taboo by them. She is supposedly seems to be undermining dream girl for every man, white or black. The idea of watching this white women dance seductively is a terrible, horrifying and shameful moment for the narrator and the other boys because she is forbidden to them due to them being black and the her solely purpose of her strip tease is to make the boys uncomfortable. On the contrary, for the white men they see her has just merely as a stripper therefore she is of lower status. The men only want her for her service, which is to pay her to sexual arouse them. The white men use their money and high-class statuses to dominated and control the Naked Blonde’s sexuality. The Naked Blonde is completely aware of her sexuality and smiles at the fear" (20) of the black boys as she dances for them. Just as she serves as the stereotypical female seductress, she then represents a similar stereotype onto the boys, as she believes that they will not be able to control their mannish ways in the presence of her naked body. She teases them knowingly at their discomfort, aware that it is evidence of their attraction to her. The Naked Blonde is not only reduced to the role of seductress, but is used as a service by the white men to fulfill their own desires. As a stripper, the Naked Blonde's purpose is to entertain, arouse, and follow the white men's orders. The evidence of misuse of the Naked Blonde service is shown through the "terror and disgust in her eyes" as they chase her around the floor and toss "her as college boys tossed at a hazing" (20). The narrator himself describes her hair as "yellow like that of a circus kewpie doll," (19) further expanding the image of the Naked Blonde of somewhat of a puppet of the rich whites, controlled by them to further their own pleasure.
Similarly to the Naked Blonde, Sybil, the white wife of a Brotherhood member, portrays a forbidden white female and also plays the role as the overly sexual white seductress. Cleverly, Sybil, in Greek-Roman mythology, was a siren that attracted sailors to their death, (Encyclopedia-Britannica) advancing the image of Sybil as a white seductress. In the novel, she admits to having rape fantasies involving black men, furthering the stereotype that black men cannot control their sexual impulses towards white women. She begs the narrator to "threaten to kill" her (518) and cries, " you big black...