Postmodernism and Identity of Invisible Man

"In Difference and Repetition (1968, English 1994), Deleuze develops his project in multiple directions. His work, he says, stems from the convergence of two lines of research: the concept of difference without negation, and the concept of repetition, in which physical and mechanical repetitions are masks for a hidden differential that is disguised and displaced. His major focus is a thoroughgoing critique of representational thinking, including identity, opposition, analogy, and resemblance (Deleuze 1994, 132). For Deleuze, “appearances of” are not representations, but sensory intensities free of subjective or objective identities (Deleuze 1994, 144). Without these identities, appearances are simulacra of an non-apparent differential he calls the “dark precursor” or “the in-itself of difference” (Deleuze 1994, 119). This differential is the non-sensible being of the sensible, a being not identical to the sensible, or to itself, but irreducibly problematic insofar as it forces us to encounter the sensible as “given"."
 This quote from the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy relates to Invisible Man. His appearance can give other people an identity of him, such as when he is mistaken for a man named Rinehart by the way he was dressed. In the part that says "For Deleuze, "appearance of" are not representations, but sensory intensities free of subjective or objective identities.", it explains that his identity of himself is free of what others think about him.

"Postmodernism creates a world-view which is ultimately untenable and unlivable. From a psychological perspective, when lived-out consistently, it fragments the individual's sense of personal identity and promotes a sense of isolation."
This is a quote from a Christian website on the ideas of postmodernism. This controversial view promotes the feeling of invisibility of the narrator.

"At the level of the individual, there abides a sense of uncertainty about how to understand oneself; most people consciously search for a sense of identity--for who and what they are and for what significance and worth they have."
From an essay written by a scholar from the McKenzie Study Center, this quote describes Invisible Man's life. He is always searching for his identity throughout the novel, concluding on the identity of being invisible.

Identities Invisible Man makes for Himself

"All my life I had been looking for something, and everywhere I turned someone tried to tell me what it was. I accepted their answer too, though they were often in contradiction and even self-contradictory. I was naive. I was looking for myself and asking everyone except myself questions which I, and only I, could answer. It took me a long time and much painful boomeranging of my expectations to achieve a realization everyone else appears to have been born with: That I am  nobody but myself. But first I had to discover that I am an invisible man!" (Ellison 15)
Invisible Man had been obedient to the way society thinks he should be because of his race, but here he discovers the existence of an invisible identity.

"They were all such a part of that other life that's dead that I can't remember them all. (Time was as I was, but neither that time nor that "I" are anymore.)" (Ellison 37)
Here Invisible Man explains that he is no longer anything like the person he was in college.

"Here within this quiet greenness I possessed the only identity I had ever known, and I was losing it. In this brief moment of passage I became aware of the connection between these lawns and buildings and my hopes and dreams. I wanted to stop the car and talk with Mr. Norton, to beg his pardon for what he had seen; to plead and show him tears, unashamed tears like those of a child before his parent; to denounce all we'd seen and heard; to assure him that far from being like any of the people we had seen, I hated them, that I believed in the principles of the Founder with all my heart and soul, and that I believed in his own goodness and kindness in extending the hand of his benevolence to helping us poor, ignorant people out of the mire and darkness…If only he were not angry with me! If only he would give me another chance!" (Ellison 99)
Invisible Man distinguishes himself from the other black people in the community, and believes in racial uplift with the help of the white community.

"I had no desire to destroy myself even if it destroyed the machine; I wanted freedom, not destruction. It was exhausting, for no matter what the scheme I conceived, there was one constant flaw – myself. There was no getting around it. I could no more escape than I could think of my identity. Perhaps, I thought, the two things are involved with one another. When I discover who I am, I'll be free." (Ellison 243)
Invisible Man acknowledges the fact that once he finds his true identity then he will be free.

"I laughed, deep, deep inside me, giddy with the delight of self-discovery and the desire to hide it. Somehow I was Buckeye the Rabbit... or had been, when as children we danced and sang barefoot in the dusty streets."..."It was annoying that he had hit upon an old identity and I shook my head.." (Ellison 242). 
When Invisible Man wakes up in the paint plant hospital he cannot remember his name. A doctor then asks him who is Buckeye the Rabbit.  He

"They're my birthmark," I said. "I yam what I am!" (Ellison 266)
Invisible Man embraces his heritage and identity as a southern black 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? What a waste, what a senseless waste!…I would have to weigh many things carefully before deciding and there would be some things that would cause quite a bit of trouble, simply because I had never formed a personal attitude toward so much. I had accepted the accepted attitudes and it had made life seem simple…" (Ellison 266)
Here Invisible Man comes to terms with his doing what the society thinks he should do and realizes that he needs to make his own choices and form his own opinions.

"No, I thought, shifting my body, they're the same legs on which I've come so far from home. And yet they were somehow new. The new suit imparted a newness to me. It was the clothes and the new name and the circumstances. It was a newness too subtle to put into thought, but there it was. I was becoming someone else." (Ellison 335)
Invisible Man realizes he is becoming a new person.

"Perhaps the part of me that observed listlessly but saw all, missing nothing, was still the malicious, arguing part; the dissenting voice, my grandfather part; the cynical, disbelieving part – the traitor self that always threatened internal discord. Whatever it was, I knew I'd have to keep it pressed down. I had to. For if I were successful tonight, I'd be on the road to something big." (Ellison 335)
Here Invisible Man suppresses main parts of his identity to fulfill his ambition.

"I was publicized, identified with the organization both by word and image in the press. On the way to work one late spring morning I counted fifty greetings from people I didn't know, becoming aware that there were two of me: the old self that slept a few hours a night and dreamed sometimes of my grandfather and Bledsoe and Brockway and Mary, the self that flew without wings and plunged from great heights; and the new public self that spoke for the Brotherhood and was becoming so much more important than the other that I seemed to run a foot race against myself." (Ellison 380)
Invisible Man acknowledges two identities of himself here. He is split in two and the newer identity is starting to take control.

"He was around and others like him, but I had looked past him until Clifton's death (or was it Ras?) had made me aware. What on earth was hiding behind the face of things? If dark glasses and a white hat could blot out my identity so quickly, who actually was who?" (Ellison 493)
After Invisible Man uses a disguise, he is mistaken for someone else numerous times and he understands how easily identity can change.

The final identity that Invisible Man takes for himself is invisibility. He "sheds off the old skin" and emerges from his hole, parted from all his previous identities.

Identities Invisible Man is given by Others

"Yes, you are my fate, young man. Only you can tell me what it really is." (Ellison 42)
Mr. Norton tells Invisible Man that he is Mr. Norton's fate, and depends on him to let him know how it turned out. The Invisible Man's identity here is a symbol of Mr. Norton's fate.

"He registers with his senses but short-circuits his brain. Nothing has meaning. He takes it in but he doesn't digest it. Already he is - well, bless my soul! Behold! a walking zombie! Already he's learned to repress not only his emotions but his humanity. He's invisible, a walking personification of the Negative, the most perfect achievement of your dreams, sir! The mechanical man!" (Ellison 94)
Here the veteran that acts like a doctor is talking to Mr. Norton and is the first person to call the narrator invisible.

"For three years I had thought of myself as a man and here with a few words he'd made me as helpless as an infant." (Ellison 144)
Dr. Bledsoe takes away Invisible Man's identity of being a man.

"'Pork chops, grits, one egg, hot biscuits and coffee!' He leaned over the counter with a look that seemed to say, There, that ought to excite you, boy. Could everyone see that I was southern?" (Ellison 178)
The counterman at the drugstore identifies Invisible Man as southern and assumes what he would like to eat.

"That is your new name," Brother Jack said. "Start thinking of yourself by that name from this moment. Get it down so that even if you are called in the middle of the night you will respond. Very soon you shall be known by it all over the country. You are to answer to no other, understand?" (Ellison 309)
Brother Jack gives Invisible Man a new identity.

Throughout the novel the main identity that other people give Invisible Man is as the minority and therefore he is invisible to everyone else.