Ralph Ellison Living with Music

1425 words 6 pages
Ralph Ellison Ralph Ellison

Ralph Waldo Ellison was born March 1, 1914 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma to Lewis Alfred and Ida Millsap Ellison. At the beginning of this century, Oklahoma had not been a state for very long and was still considered a part of the frontier. Lewis and Ida Ellison had each grown up in the South to parents who had been slaves. The couple moved out west to Oklahoma hoping the lives of their children would be fueled with a sense of possibility in this state that was reputed for its freedom. Though the prejudices of Texas and Arkansas soon encroached upon Oklahoma, the open spaces and fighting spirit of the people whom Ellison grew up among did provide him with a relatively unbiased atmosphere.

The death of Lewis
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He would later use the experiences from Tuskegee and the injustices he encountered in the South to structure his writing of Invisible Man.

Due to financial problems, Ellison left Tuskegee after his third year. Introduced to Augusta Savage, a black sculptor in Harlem who liked his work, Ellison moved to Harlem, New York in 1936, still hoping to be able to return to school. Ellison lived in New York for most of the rest of his life. One of New York's lures was its energy and reputation of energy and freedom. Ellison enjoyed living in Harlem as it was a tremendously vibrant cultural center in the 1930s and 1940s. After living there for a year, however, he was forced to leave for several months which he found very upsetting. His mother died, and he attended the funeral in Dayton, Ohio. The return to New York though was promising because of a meeting with Richard Wright, who would have a large literary influence on Ellison. This meeting along with his inability to find a steady job playing the trumpet led Ellison to immerse himself more in his writing. His first book review is published in New Challenge entitled "Creative and Cultural Lag." Soon after, as his literary style began to take form, he wrote his first short story, "Heine's Bull." It was not published.

Although Ellison had a few writing successes, finding jobs and money