Invisible Man Short Essay - Answer Key

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1. Why is Harlem a particularly appropriate setting for the novel?

Harlem was the home of many black people who had moved to the north in search of a better life only to end up living in industrialized squalor. The Brotherhood used the plight of the Harlem blacks in the same way that Norton used the black college in the south.

2. What does Ellison mean when he says that for African Americans, all wars are "wars within wars."

Ellison is talking about the historical dilemma faced by blacks and other minorities in which they had to fight for the right to even be a soldier before they could actually fight in the war itself.

3. What does Ellison mean by "benign neglect"?

He is referring to the ultimate extreme from open discrimination or aggression. When blacks moved from the south to avoid discrimination and open persecution, they often found themselves simply ignored. While they were not openly mistreated, their needs were simply not acknowledged which is in itself a form of abuse.

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