Invisible Man (Pages 151-295)

In Chapters 7 to 13, in the novel Invisible Man, by Ralph Ellison, the narrator struggles to adapt in a new environment. The narrator takes a train north in search for a job so that he could gain back Dr. Bledsoe’s acceptance and finish off college. When he arrives to Harlem, he is shocked to see black men and women rioting in public while a couple of police men are joking around the corner. “For me this was not a city of realities, but of dreams” (page 159). The narrator is at awe of what he sees around him. In his reality, blacks are expected to hide in the shadows and do what they are told. Confused and immature, the narrator’s beliefs fade away as he rediscovers racism.

After moving up North, the narrator is very skeptical of his acceptance amongst the white people. He comments on the white peoples’ apologies after bumping into him in the crowd, “Still I felt that even when they were polite they hardly saw me…” (page 168). It is weird to think that although people acknowledged the narrator’s presents and begged for his pardon, he still feels invisible. Later on, the narrator goes to a drugstore where he is offered pork chops, grits, one egg, hot biscuits and coffee. This offends the narrator. He thinks the cook assumed he would want the special because he was from the South, so he orders orange juice, toast, and coffee instead. As he leaves the drugstore, his assumption is contradicted when he sees a white man being served a plate of pork chop and grits.

The narrator didn’t receive any replies for the first six letters he sent out, so he took a different approach on the last letter.  For this letter, directed towards Mr. Emerson, he received a reply. The narrator ends up in a deep conversation with a young man at Mr. Emerson’s office.  The narrator gets aggravated that the man would not let him see Mr. Emerson and questions, “What have you got against me? You, a northern white man” (page 189). The man turns out to be Mr. Emerson’s son and shares the letter with the narrator to help him out. It turns out the letters, written by Dr. Bledsoe, discredited the narrator and promised his disenrollment from the college. Young Mr. Emerson continues to offer his help, but the narrator turns him down.

The narrator uses a number given by Young Mr. Emerson to land an interview at Liberty Paints. He was put to work right away. The white paint seems to symbolize race. Although the paint starts off nearly black, it could be mixed to turn into pure white. Physical colors could mask one’s true identity. After the paint job, he is assigned to assist a man named Mr. Brockway, in the basement. Here, Brockway and the narrator get into a physical fight. Brockway rigs one of the boilers to explode and the narrator is sent to the hospital.

In these last couple chapters, the narrator goes through stages of rebirth. At the hospital, it is noted that the narrator feels very vulnerable instead of safe and treated. After the hospital, the narrator runs into a black woman named Mary Rambo at the subway. This woman becomes his friend and takes care of him. In Chapter 13, the narrator makes a heroic move by making a speech to help a black woman keep her house. When the police arrived, they accused the narrator of interfering with the eviction. A white girl helps the narrator out. These actions were not acts of good between race, but acts of good between mere citizens.

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~ by ariellav on May 15, 2011.

7 Responses to “Invisible Man (Pages 151-295)”

  1. I thought it was interesting how there were so many references to white and blacks and how they were white washed (paint). I think that it was symbolic that the narrator was mixing the paint with the black to make it pure because he’s been what the whites expect him to be. This whole time he has been trying to be accepted by the whites and please them to fit in.

  2. When the narrator gets amnesia after the incident in the factory, it seems as though in a way it wipes clean his old life in which he feared so many people like Bledsoe and even Mr. Norton giving him somewhat of a fresh start to let go of his past, since he cant even really remember it. I find this to be significant to the story.

  3. Dr. Bledsoe acts like a “white” man in the book because he lies to the narrator by telling the narrator that he is going to help the narrator write letter of recommendations so that the narrator can get a job, but he does not do that. Instead, Dr. Bledsoe lies to the narrator and instead wrote letters that told employers to not hire the narrator. Dr. Bledsoe is a black man but he acts white, because he wants to please to white man.

  4. “The Negro race, like all races, is going to be saved by its exceptional men. The problem of education, then, among Negroes must first of all deal with the Talented Tenth.” This quote by W.E.B. Du Bois fits pretty well with our reading for this week. the invisible man’s experiences at the college may not lead him to become the top 10 percent of his race, but i think Du Bois is trying to say that just by entering college, gives African Americans the opportunity to overcome double consciousness. From there, they can begin to seek self realization and to reach their highest capacities.

  5. While reading through the novel, I was expecting the narrator to at least suspect that Dr. Blodsoe played a trick on him with the letters. From no longer hearing responses from any of the trustees, the narrator should have known something was wrong. When Mr. Emerson’s son was trying to help him by telling him to go elsewhere , the narrator was furious and his initial thought was that it had something to do with race because he wasn’t being allows access to Mr. Emerson. But Mr. Emerson’s son was simply being a good person and trying to help him from ridicule of the narrators believes to be Mr. Bledoe’s assistant one day, if the man no longer wanted him into the institution.

  6. @angelgu, I both agree and disagree with your comment. Dr. Bledsoe does lie to the narrator, and this makes him seems like a white man in the sense that white men made laws that created “equality” but the equality was a lie and white continue to mistreat the blacks. However, the white stereotype is to be great while the black stereotype is to be a lowlife. Isn’t it stereotypical of a black man to lie then? This make Dr. Bledsoe just what the white men want him to be: just a black man.

  7. I feel like there have been a lot of metaphors for blacks and white such as the “pure white” paint. In order to have pure white there had to be a black mixture that was mixed in it. It feels like this paint factory and the name of it has something to do with the references to black and white too. Everything seems to be pretty crucial up until this point but its hard to tell exactly what because this part of the story seems to be just as confusing as the 1st chapter.

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