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Invisible Man Essay

Jazmyn Bernard
AP Literature
7 Dec. 2013
They Call Him Sambo- 2009
Throughout Invisible Man, Ralph Ellison uses different symbols to represent the trials and tribulations of African Americans of that time period. The Sambo Doll might be the most recurring symbol that is used throughout the novel. The Sambo Doll is portrayed as a black man with a wide mouth and large lips. The doll also has strings attached to it resembling a puppet. The Sambo doll comes in different shapes and sizes, but the most identified doll is the black man with a wide opened mouth. The Sambo doll symbolizes how African Americans are treated in the Invisible Man’s time and even in today’s world. They are treated as nothing more than puppets on a string being controlled by others who believe that they are in control and that African Americans have no power and are seen as nothing more that invisible. The Doll upsets the Invisible Man numerous times throughout the novel from his first encounter with the Sambo salt shaker that Mary possessed at her apartment, to when he sees Clifton on the streets selling the dolls to others. In many ways, it seems that the Invisible Man is the only one that is bothered by the doll and understands what it symbolizes. He understands that he is invisible to the world around him and that he is irrelevant due to the color of his skin. The Invisible Man tries desperately to feel that he is seen and heard, and is capable of making his own decisions. In the novel Invisible Man, the Sambo doll plays a significant roll concerning racism, identity, and class status.
Ralph Ellison uses the Sambo doll as a symbol of the black man’s effort to seek equality in a white man’s world, or environment. During the hospital scene the Invisible Man represents the Sambo Doll. He is the black man portrayed as a puppet sitting in a hospital bed or a box when referring to the doll. In this scene, the Invisible Man wakes up in the hospital surrounding by doctors who act as…


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