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Ralph Ellison Quotes (41 Quotes)


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  • And my problem was that I always tried to go in everyone's way but my own.
    (Ralph Ellison, "Invisible Man")

  • What and how much had I lost by trying to do only what was expected of me instead of what I myself had wished to do?
    (Ralph Ellison, "Invisible Man")

  • And the mind that has conceived a plan of living must never lose sight of the chaos against which that pattern was conceived. That goes for societies as well as for individuals.
    (Ralph Ellison, "Invisible Man")

  • Who knows but that, on the lower frequencies, I speak for you?
    (Ralph Ellison, "Invisible Man")

  • And while the ice was melting to form a flood in which I threatened to drown I awoke one afternoon to find that my first northern winter had set.
    (Ralph Ellison, "Invisible Man")


  • I do not know if all cops are poets, but I know that all cops carry guns with triggers.
    (Ralph Ellison, "Invisible Man")

  • I feel the need to reaffirm all of it, the whole unhappy territory and all the things loved and unloveable in it, for it is all part of me.
    (Ralph Ellison, "Invisible Man")

  • I felt that even when they were polite they hardly saw me, that they would have begged the pardon of Jack the Bear, never glancing his way if the bear happened to be walking along minding his business. It was confusing. I did not know if it was desirable or undesirable...
    (Ralph Ellison, "Invisible Man")

  • I was never more hated than when I tried to be honest. Or when, even as just now I've tried to articulate exactly what I felt to be the truth. No one was satisfied
    (Ralph Ellison, "Invisible Man")

  • I was pulled this way and that for longer than I can remember. And my problem was that I always tried to go in everyone's way but my own. I have also been called one thing and then another while no one really wished to hear what I called myself. So after years of trying to adopt the opinions of others I finally rebelled. I am an invisible man.
    (Ralph Ellison, "Invisible Man")

  • I'd been so fascinated by the notion, that I'd forgotten to measure what it was bringing forth. I'd been asleep, dreaming.
    (Ralph Ellison, "Invisible Man")

  • Like the bodiless heads you see sometimes in circus sideshows, it is as though I have been surrounded by mirrors of hard, distorting glass. When they approach me they see only my surroundings, themselves, or figments of their imagination-indeed, everything and anything except me.
    (Ralph Ellison, "Invisible Man")

  • Man's hope can paint a purple picture, can transform a soaring vulture into a noble eagle or moaning dove.
    (Ralph Ellison, "Invisible Man")

  • Perhaps everyone loved someone; I didn't now, I couldn't give much thought to love; in order to travel far you had to be detached, and I had the long road back to the campus before me.
    (Ralph Ellison, "Invisible Man")

  • Perhaps to lose a sense of where you are implies the danger of losing a sense of who you are.
    (Ralph Ellison, "Invisible Man")


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