Through the characterization of the protagonist during his college life, Ralph Ellison demonstrates how Negroes have trouble achieving their own identities in a white-dominated society, and often have an identity imposed on them by other people. The protagonist, the unnamed narrator of the story, wins a scholarship to a Negro college because of his speechmaking. The fact that the narrator isn't given a name emphasizes the notion that he is struggling to find an identity
showed first 75 words of 404 total
showed last 75 words of 404 total
white trustee] The mechanical man! (94). The white trustees, like Mr. Norton, seek to impose their own identity on the helpless narrator, Mr. Norton considers the narrator a part of his destiny and his fate. This betrayal leaves the narrator ashamed and even more confused about his identity. The narrator leaves the south desperately in need of finding his own identity, but all he finds are more people who use him to meet their own needs.