Shadow and Act Short Essay - Answer Key

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1. Ellison originally wanted to be a musician. What changed for him?

Writing was where Ellison struggled with very deep issues of identity. In some ways he repressed it under his interest in music and social action. It was there, however, fermenting, a place where he could and ultimately would find the tools he needed to decipher reality and dream of what was possible.

2. As a child Ellison imagined himself as a "Renaissance man." What does that mean?

In the Renaissance period men were encouraged to become skilled at many things and not focus on simply one activity. As a child Ellison imagined himself as a conglomeration of many heroes engaged in all kinds of creative activities and he took this image with him into adult life and was involved in music, dance, social and political activities, intellectual pursuits, and writing.

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