Invisible Man (Page 1-150)

In the novel Invisible Man, we are introduced to the main narrator who clearly states his identity to the reader in the first line of the Prologue “I am an Invisible man” (3). The narrator, who still remains nameless is not physically invisible but acts more of a symbol of others not seeing him for the person on the inside, but by his outer judgement. In the prologue the narrator tells the reader the outcome of the novel as he is living in a hole, a basement where he is getting vengeance on society and gets free electricity and has 1,369 in his house.

The main themes of the novel are the start to the narrators invisibility with dealing with the issue of race divisions and hierarchy, while learning to discover where he stands as a black man.

In Chapter 1, the narrator takes us back twenty years where he remembers his grandfathers curse before his death who told the narrator’s father, “Live with your head in the lions mouth” (16), meaning that the key to success was to obey and agree with the white man. Taking the curse in mind, the narrator is invited to give a speech at a battle Royal for his good conduct and graduating high school. Little did he know that is was a trap set out by the elite white man as he and other negro boys were sent to the ring, and faced shame as a naked stripper danced in front of the men, and the boys just watched and tried to keep it together. Then, After being blindfolded, they chaos arose as the boys were fighting one another, and where humiliated more as they were being shocked to receive fake gold coins on a carpet for the white men’s amusement. I found it ironic that after the narrator was bleeding and in pain, he still managed to give his speech and the men questioned him in an angered tone when he said, “social equality ” (31). Knowing his place in the racial hierarchy, he then says it was a mistake. The Irony follows as after the speech he receives a college scholarship and accepts it besides the fact that he was humiliated immensely in one night.

The beginning of the narrators journey that questions his being begins in chapter 2. The narrator is in his third year in college and is a driver to one of the trustees and original founders of the University. A wealthy white man, Mr. Norton. As the narrator drives Mr. Norton around to waste time before his afternoon meeting, this is when Mr. Norton explains that the narrator and his people are his fate, and he must tell his the outcome of his destiny. The series of unfortunate events began as the narrator takes Mr. Norton to see one of the old slave cabins, and he tells him about the event that occurred when Trueblood, a poor rural farmer impregnated his daughter. Outraged, Mr. Norton gets out of the car and confronts the man for an explanation. The ironic part was that Trueblood actually gives him the whole story detail by detail when Mr. Norton was not a cop or had any legal right to demand an answer. Trueblood explains how it was a cold night and his daughter Matty Lou slept with him and his wife Kate, and how they got erected through a dream, but his daughter was seducing him. What made it more ironic is that Mr. Norton gives Trueblood $100, which at the time may have been a lot of money and tells him to buy the children toys with it.

The event continues in chapter 3 when Mr. Norton is upset by the story and asks the narrator to get him some whiskey. Hesitated, he takes him to the Golden Day, which is basically a brothel. His plan is to go in, buy the whiskey and leave, that way Mr. Norton will not have to see the veterans that were insane. But life makes it harder for the narrator, and he gets denied to take alcohol outside. Mr. Norton becomes unconscious, the narrator thinks he dying and a state of panic enters his mind. He takes him inside the Golden Day, and gives him the whiskey, then commotion occurs as one of the veterans that thinks he’s a doctor helps Mr. Norton,throughout the whole time the narrator just wants to leave as the veteran starts making fun of Mr. Norton’s idea that the African-Americans fate is his destiny, meanwhile the narrator is scared and wants to leave.Mr. Norton faints again, but they leave and return back to the University.

Chapter 4 discusses the outcome of the narrators actions as he tries to apologize to Mr. Norton, and is fearful to see the dean’s reaction. Doctor Bledsoe was furious at the narrator over the locations he took Mr. Norton and how that will give a negative effect to the institution. What the narrator found interesting was that Doctor Bledsoe was very kind towards Mr. Norton, a white man. Doctor Bledsoe worked very hard to have the position as president as the university, so he felt he was at the same level, if not higher than the white man. When Doctor Bledsoe  saw his head, ” he cried, a strange grandmotherly concern in his voice” (103). Mr. Norton tries to stick up for the narrator, but he knew in the back of his mind that Doctor Bledsoe will punish him.

In chapters 5 the narrator attends church in the campus’ chapel. he becomes amused by Reverend Barbee who speaks about the founder of the college, and the great vision of the school, which he took part in. His words were so impacting that the narrator later finds out that Reverend Barbee is blind when the narrator sees him blind. The narrator is still concerned about what he was going to do if he got expelled from college, worrying about the humiliation from his friends and parents.

This leads to chapter 6 where Doctor Bledsoe gives it to the narrator hard and expels the narrator as the narrator humiliated the school by showing Mr. Norton what he wasn’t supposed to see, and encouraged him to lie to the white man “You’re black and living in the South- did you forget to lie” (139)? The narrator tried to fight back, but Doctor Bledsoe attacked him by making him feel like a nobody, an invisible compared to his power. “You don’t exist can’t you see that? The white folk tell everybody what to think – except men like me”  ( 143). The narrator felt like an “infant”. Doctor Bledsoe offered him a job over the summer in new York, and it became ironic that he accepted his offer, besides the fact that the man humiliated him, and that night the narrator packed his belongings and just left the next morning agreeing “he’s right; the school and what it stands for have to be protected” (147).

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~ by cecilia600 on May 10, 2011.

8 Responses to “Invisible Man (Page 1-150)”

  1. From what we have read so far, there has been a lot of talk regarding light and blindness. The invisible man is invisible because he is black and dark. As a result, people are blind to him because he cannot see him. However, he lives in a place that is very well-lighted, bright, and contains 1,369 light bulbs. Even though the narrator is considered invisible and white people cannot see him, he still has an impact of them. The Electric Company knows that someone is stealing their electricity and they are negatively affected by that, and the white man was reported to have been mugged by someone, but they do not know who.

    Also, I thought that it was interesting that the Founder of the school was physically impotent and that Reverend Barbee was blind. Reverend Barbee spoke about the vision of the school that the Founder had, but the Reverend’s blindness makes that vision seem less important and true.

  2. It’s interesting how the there is some obscurity regarding the main character. His own name and the name of his school are left unknown, which adds to his status as “invisible”.

    The number of light bulbs is peculiar. 1369=3*0,3*1,3*2,3*3

  3. As this man is seen invisible to society, he is able to live free of rent and free of electricity bills. Since it is impractical for a person to use 1,369 light bulbs in his or her home and the number of light bulbs is ridiculously large, I feel like the light bulbs themselves have a strong significance to this novel. I think that even though this man appears to be invisible, his existence is clearly evident and is reassured by the light-bulbs.

  4. I think the grandfather’s lasting words are a really important part of chapter 1 and that it will play a big part in the rest of the book. The fact that he advises his family to somewhat have two identities one in which they behave as their masters wish and the other being their true identity in which they still hold onto their bitterness for having to have a fake identity in the first place really must be emotionally challenging since in order to do so their true self will have to remain invisible.

  5. Also, in the prologue, when the narrator talks about his encounter with the white man who bumped into him at night and insulted him, he says that the man was asleep/in a dream. This confused me somewhat, but I think what the narrator means is that the white man could not see him because it was night time and there were no lights. Still, the fact that the narrator claims that the white man was being terrorized by his own nightmare seemed unrealistic to me. Maybe someone else could make better sense of this…

  6. I really like the idea about the overcompensation of the light bulbs.I think that it may be a way to understand that he is a visible, tangible thing for the narrator. On the other hand, I think that the insane amount of energy being consumed and large number of light bulbs helps express his invisibility even more. I feel like if that much energy was being used, someone would try to find where the power was going. I also think that it would pretty easy to find a place so bright. However, since neither have been discovered, I think it reveals a lot about his invisibility.

  7. I think that everyone touched on the light bulbs and how it relates to him being invisible. But, it is important to acknowledge that he is overcompensating for the fact that he feels invisible. @natashajarett123 I think the part about the dream means that the narrator feels like he is a figment of people’s worst nightmares. Only seen by people in times where he would soon be forgotten or feared.

  8. The sheer amount of lightbulbs that the narrator puts up takes up an insane amount of energy. For him to live in such a building and to have that many lightbulbs, the energy source and amount of light given off has to be noticed. But up to this point in the story, no one has noticed him yet and this leads to the title of Invisible Man. He really is invisible even though he tries to stand out.

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