Invisible Man Symbolism in Liberty Paint by Ralph Ellison

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Through the symbol of the Liberty Paints Plant, Ralph Ellison, conveys how racism can cover up and destroy one's identity. The Liberty Paints plant serves as a complex model of American society with regard to races. Like American society it is based on the ideals of liberty and purity, yet racism is prominent within it. When entering the plant one sees a huge electric sign with the words "Keep America Pure with Liberty Paints" (196). However, "…

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…made, by mixing drops of a dead black substance in with the white paint. The paint, however, emerges even whiter and purer then before, with no trace of its black components. Again, Ellison refers to how white culture tends to overshadow and oppress the Negro identity. The portrayal of the Liberty Paints Plant is one of the many symbols Ellison uses to show the propensity of American Society to outcast Negroes, and make them invisible.