Dialogue is Action


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Horatio Alger (Allu...
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Horatio Alger (Allusion Thread)  


Anonymous Parrot
Gnome AP Lit 2021
Joined: 5 months ago
Posts: 63
October 21, 2020 5:35 pm  

I thought I would start a thread on this since IM is filled with so many allusions and references to biblical stories, music, poems, and so much more. Understanding them helps me out so much more in understanding Ellison's larger themes and ideas. I'll start first...


On pg. 111 in Ch. 5, IM makes a reference to the "black rite of Horatio Alger". Horatio Alger was a YA author who wrote essentially "rags-to-riches" stories but with a slightly more sinister theme. On the surface, his books seem to be about hard work will be rewarded with wealth but in reality, it is about complying with societal traditions and values. This is so perfectly well done because it is essentially what the college is for. This "college" is a reward for following everything the white folks say to a "T". 


I'm curious about what other allusions people found that I may have missed. Drop some down below that really stuck out to you!

Jackson Von Habsburg
Gnome AP Lit 2021
Joined: 5 months ago
Posts: 54
October 21, 2020 9:17 pm  

This novel is heavy on Christian symbolism. I think we have so much of the novel has so much to do with Christian symbolism. As I wrote in a couple of forums ago we can see a lot of the allusions to Dante's inferno and the way that chapter one represents hell in many ways for the main character. We can tell that obviously, this was very traumatic for the main character. The next thing we see is Norton and the idea of repentance. we know that Norton is a very sinful man and he tries to become virtuous through the money that he gives to the college but he is still very sinful as we can see with the interactions with true blood. chapter 5 is also filled with Christian symbolism where the pastor talk of how money can not take away your sins. The chapter ends with part of a bible verse when Christ says " Render on to Ceasar what is Caesars, But render unto God what is god's

Gnome AP Lit 2021
Joined: 5 months ago
Posts: 79
October 22, 2020 1:19 am  

As obvious as it is, I hadn't even thought much into the college being a sort of reward for following the white folks wishes. This just goes to show how reading into these allusions can bring good points up into the forefront, and help better understand the reading. This goes for what @jacksonvon mentioned, about Norton's idea of repentance. I hadn't even thought to connect that to dantes inferno. Thanks for posting this thread! I think it will help me a lot with this reading 🙂 

Gnome AP Lit 2021
Joined: 5 months ago
Posts: 72
October 22, 2020 9:11 am  

@persephone  I had never really thought about the reason that IM had gotten into the college.  I mean it was obvious that the speech he gave was the reason but when you think more about it, would he actually have gotten the scholarship if he didn't participate in the battle royale?  This really got me thinking.  I, as well, would agree this forum I think, will give me a better idea of what I will be reading 

Gnome AP Lit 2021
Joined: 4 months ago
Posts: 51
October 28, 2020 10:55 pm  

There really are so many allusions in Invisible Man all the way from Shakespeare to The Odyssey. One of the major allusions I recognized was actually never spoken of. This allusion is Plato's "Allegory of the Cave". Ellison takes the idea and theme of enlightenment from Plato, and applies it to modern writing strategies; one case of this enlightenment is that of IM joining the Brotherhood as a way to not only educate and illuminate himself but also fellow black men.


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