June 29, 2013

Puppet - Pulling Strings


Prologue - Symbolically a “puppet” is a person who has been influenced whether he/she realizes it or not. A literal puppet and yoyos are controlled by strings are also used by another person. Invisible Man is a milestone in American literature, a book that has continued to engage readers since its appearance in 1952. It remained in the bestseller list for 16 weeks and established Ralph Ellison as one of the key writers of the century.
Is your life someone's Puppet ?

Children play with dolls but many people just collect them, which bring us to an interesting point, are people simply dolls for other people to play with or collect? One could make the argument that we are all Tod Clifton’s, doomed to dance by invisible strings while wearing a mask of individualism. However, unlike Tod Clifton most of us will not realize that who pulls the string is not ourselves.

Ralph Ellison’s novel, The Invisible Man is fraught with images of dolls as if to constantly remind the reader that no one is in complete control of themselves. Our first example of doll imagery comes very early in the novel with the Battle Royal Scene. The nude blonde woman is described as having hair that was yellow like that of a circus Kewpie doll. Ellison draws a very strong connection between the plight of the Negro man and the white woman. The fact that, they are both shown as puppets/dolls in the work are no coincidences. The woman and the African are merely showpieces for the white men in the novel. 

The Invisible Man recognizes that all his life he’s been a slave and a puppet to others. Whether those others were his grandfather or the brotherhood is irrelevant. But there has always been imperceptible string attached to him governing everything he does, not only a string but also his physical characteristics echo those of the dolls.

Its cardboard hands were clenched into fists, the fingers outlined in orange paint and I noticed that it had two faces one on either side of the disks of the cardboard, and both grinning. Hands doubled into fists? This is the brotherly message in a nutshell. Strong, ready to fight for what one supposedly believes in. yet, at the same time these fists are controlled exclusively by the one holding the strings.

We get a powerful and disturbing image of this very idea when the Invisible Man is in the factory hospital after the explosion. It is a scene that seems to fade into the mishmash of confusion that accompanies this part of the novel, but it is nonetheless very important. As the narrator lies in his glass enclosed box with wires and electrode attached all over his body, he is subjected to shock treatment.

At the end of the narrative, while escaping the hells of the Harlem riots, The Invisible Man stumbles upon an open manhole and the gloom below.

While trying to keep warm and get a good look at the place he is in, he begins to burn the various objects in his briefcase. When he comes to the flimsy tissue paper doll he finds that it will not burn. He remarks ‘it burned so stubbornly that I reached inside the case for something else’. The doll’s difficulty in burning is a symbolic of the fact that we as men will never fully be able to break free from our puppet like imprisonment.

We control others and others control us – that is the sum and substance of life.

TheWhitEscape, Hyderabad

About her: In short T.W.S, always loved writing and that’s the primary reason for the existence of her blog. She has shaped her world and the blog according the developments in the vagaries of her own life. Obsessed about movies; hates grammatical errors; loves Chinese food. Appreciation for her writings gives her a better high than vodka. She dreams to give away autographed copies of her authored books to her fans.

She can be contacted on
1.     Facebook - The Whitescape The Other Me
2.     Wordpress blog –  http://thewhitescape.wordpress.com/
3.     Twitter handle – starryrom


  1. Thank you Snuffles for making my post look so awesome with great related pictures. I could not get these, I wanted something very related to the text and these are so in sync! Thanks for the efforts...If you want you can change the text and colour of it...

  2. Hehe you are always welcome,
    naah i like the color and format, i just wanted to keep that intact :)


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