The Influences of Ralph Ellison in His Book Negro Oklahoma City

Topics: Ralph Ellison

In Ralph Ellison’s piece Negro Oklahoma City, Ellison’s profound interest in music, books and the world around him is expressed through his educated language. As one of the three most “present” influences on Ralph Ellison’s work, music holds an important role in Ellison’s life. Ellison’s attitude toward music can be described best with the phrase “artistic discipline,” which he defines as “once one picked up an instrument it was difficult to escape.” Ellison goes on to describe music as enjoyable, yet not a task.

Ellison’s view about music is that it enables a “freedom of imagination,” which in turn, benefits the other creative habits of his, such as writing.

As a young child, Ellison was blessed to have a library that he, as an African-American, could use. When Ellison learned to read, he became enamored with books. This is seen through his excitement as he recount this period in his life: “But how fortunate for a boy who loved to read.

” The enthusiasm with which Ellison describes the books he reads and the pleasure that he obtains through reading these books shows the great influence that books have had on Ellison’s work. Ellison’s attitude regarding reading and books was very positive. Ellison expresses his great pleasure in books and reading throughout this part of the essay, and goes on to explain how profoundly this love for reading benefitted his career as a writer. The best word to characterize Ellison’s view towards reading would be “influential.

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The plethora of life which surrounded Ellison at the time was also a profound influence on his later work. The events which took place during his youth served as an inspiration in his later career as a writer. Ellison’s attitude within this part of the essay conveys a tone that is less “excited” than the previous ones, yet at the same time, seemingly appreciative. While there was great racial turmoil taking place during Ellison’s childhood, Elliso seems to express a similar feeling when describing books and music, but somewhat less positive. Ellison still establishes the same sentence structure and word selection as before. He keeps the piece as conversational, while implementing an educated diction which displays his large vocabulary. When Ellison describes the world around him, he maintains the same advanced diction and keeps the essay informal with a slightly negative change within his tone and overall attitude. The influence that music, books and the plethora of life surrounding Ellison can be expressed through his cultured language which he uses.

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The Influences of Ralph Ellison in His Book Negro Oklahoma City. (2023, Jan 12). Retrieved from

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