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Invisible Man & The Joy Luck Club

The concepts of invisibility and self-esteem are central to the charactersÆ lives in both Ralph EllisonÆs (1972) Invisible Man and Amy TanÆs (1989) The Joy Luck Club. Both works are autobiographical in nature. Both also portray the destructive impact of racism and prejudice on human self-esteem and identity. EllisonÆs invisible man is an African American living in a white racist society. TanÆs characters are four sets of mothers and daughters who are Asian immigrants trying to assimilate into American mainstream culture. White culture has difficulty recognizing or valuing other cultures, such as African Americans or Asians. Typically, such cultures are devalued in contrast to white American culture. As such, members of non-dominant groups often suffer low self-esteem because of being devalued. They suffer the impact of living in a prejudiced society, one that mandates for their own protection that they keep their natural heritage and culture ôinvisible.ö

The extolling of American ideas and values necessarily requires devaluing the ideas and values of others cultures. What is in accordance with the dominant ideas and values is viewed as superior to what is not. Because of this, minorities often suffer from institutionalized discrimination in U.S. society. In Invisible Man, Ellison (1972) opens his work by explaining: ôI am an invisible man. I am invisible, understand, simply because people refuse to see meö (1). Because of prejudice and racism, Ellison is deemed ôinferiorö by dominant white society. If he is recognized as distinctly African American, it is only as a ônightmareö that the dreamer uses all his power to destroy and not as someone valuable in his own right.

Ellison points out that his invisibility stems primarily from racial myths. EllisonÆs depiction of the horrific psychological and physical abuses his narrator endures, demonstrates why many African Americans suffer low self-esteem from...

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Invisible Man & The Joy Luck Club. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 01:36, March 22, 2019, from