The Road to Self-Discovery

       If we were to take a look at our identities, most of us would find ourselves confused. From time to time, we all wear masks and we alter our identity when we desire conformity. Ask yourself this: how do we respond to outside influences while remaining true to ourselves? On many occasions, I have found myself in situations where I felt my true identity should be suppressed. When there are so many expectations placed upon us, it is tremendously difficult to just be yourself. It is becoming astoundingly ordinary that these forces greater than ourselves can manipulate our identity, and since literary themes are reflective of true-to-life scenarios, it seems reasonable that many works of literature possess this idea as well.  

            The unnamed protagonist of Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man is a sheer portrayal of someone struggling to hold on to their identity. Even as a young boy, the protagonist was faced with outside influence (i.e. his grandfather) that led him to act and think in a certain way. It is quite evident that his grandfather’s instructions to “kill” white men with kindness had some type of impact on who he was as a person. The pressure of being respectful to white men was quite significant, yet there is another key piece to the puzzle: the Brotherhood. With the expectation that the protagonist would be obedient and serve them as they wished, it was hard for him to stay true to his identity. As readers, we know that he is a man of substance; he is educated, very well composed, and he is very inspirational. In spite of his brilliant qualities, the Brotherhood sees him as being a “tool,” therefore stripping him of his identity.

            Upon the realization that the protagonist is having an inner conflict about his sense of self, we must return to the previously posed question. If these influences are acting upon him, how does he remain true to himself? As he looks at his identity in the prologue of Invisible Man, he says that “you often doubt if you exist” (Ellison 3). It was not until the protagonist came to ignore these outside influences that he began living true to his identity. Toward the end of the novel, the protagonist learns to let go of these other forces and he burns the documents within his briefcase as he moves toward his real identity. He learns to become “invisible” to those around him so he can be who he truly wants to be.

            The analysis of the “Invisible Man” lends us an answer to such essential questions. As we delve into the mind of the protagonist, we discover that remaining true to your identity is – in his opinion – simply to look past the opinion of others. His character conveys to readers the message that being invisible to those around us is better than having others only see you for what they want.



Defining Literary Merit

       If you were to ask me what a work of literary merit is, my answer would be simple: any work that is written in a way that makes great use of literary devices and possesses a meaning that does more than just skim the surface. I feel that works of literary merit should have some type of deeper meaning, or a theme that makes a reader consider the novel well beyond its final pages. When I think of literary merit, the first thing that comes to my mind would be classic books. They're all regarded as classics for a reason, their common thread being their literary merit. These novels are classics because they are well written, thoroughly intellectual, and timeless. For further convincing, see here.
        Given this, the first book I will be blogging about will be Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. In my opinion, this novel is an authentic example of "literary merit." Austen makes use of irony and witty diction, of metaphors and complex themes, of well developed characters and imagery. There are countless portrayals of literary merit throughout the novel, one can hardly keep track of them all. When looking at these devices as a whole, it becomes clear to readers that Austen is making an effort to criticize the social classes of the early 1800s, and she does so very well. This is evident from her very first line: "It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife" (3). Upon completing the novel, this utterly ironic statement reveals the story for its critical nature. This, in my opinion, makes it the work of literary merit it truly is. How can such a commentary of the social classes ever be regarded as anything other than classic?


       Before introducing myself, I feel that my URL needs an introduction of its own. This blog is meant to consist of my reading explorations, however, I couldn't resist claiming this hilarious pun. Not only do I love cats, but the first book I will be blogging about will be Pride and Prejudice. The clever name seemed utterly suitable.  
       As for myself, there is not much to introduce. I thoroughly enjoy 90s rock music, anything vintage and antique themed, baking, and of course, absolutely losing myself in novels. I heavily identify as a bibliophagist: an avid or voracious reader. More literally, it means "one who devours books." If I had to sit back and think of one word to describe myself, it would most definitely be bibliophagist. I find myself to be most content when I'm tearing through novels and reading like there is no tomorrow.

       When I was confronted with the task of creating this blog, I think my excitement was unearthly. I was all over it. I would like to use this blog for its intended purpose of chronicling my journey through the novels I read, but I also wish for it to do more than that. I want this blog to help me be more analytical of what I read, and hopefully inspire others to do the same. My ultimate goal is to share my love of literature with anyone who is willing to invest their time in it. 

     I'd like for you all to stick around as I write about my adventures in books as a bibliophagist!