Invisible Man (479-581)

This section starts with Harlem in an outrage over Clifton’s death. Many important events and changes result from the aftermath of the shooting. With the community so riled up, Ras is able to gain support and attack the Brotherhood for their lack of involvement. One significant result is that Ras gains much more power and becomes much bolder. This can be seen in his name change from Ras the Exhorter to Ras the Destroyer. After debating with Ras, the narrator is forced to run away from some of Ras’ men and adorn a disguise. The result is one of the most interesting parts of the novel.

After purchasing dark sunglasses in a drugstore, the narrator is mistaken by many as a man known as Rinehart. The really weird thing is that the narrator is identified by many different people, and that these people know Rinehart for different reasons. It is very bizarre that Rinehart is recognized as both a prostitute and also a reverend. It is also very interesting that Barrelhouse, who would have recognized the narrator, also misinterpreted him for Rinehart. This brings forth quite a conundrum- everyone seems to know the narrator, yet nobody actually knows he is. This contrast in identity is very important for the narrator- it highlights the differences between his self-image and what others take him for.

Another turning point is reached when the narrator talks to Brother Hambro. The narrator is shocked to learn that the brotherhood is planning on “sacrificing” the narrator’s district to pursue different goals. This twist is very important and exposes the idea that the narrator is just being used by the brotherhood. This ironically parallels the idea about the magazine article from earlier in the story, except that the brotherhood is using the narrator solely for their own advances, as opposed of their accusation of the narrator using the interview for personal gain. After realizing their true intent, the narrator interprets his grandfather’s advice as a way to get back at the brotherhood for using him.

The narrator finds even more betrayal after the riot erupts in Harlem. The narrator learns that the Brotherhood had been deliberately giving power to Ras and was at fault for causing the riot to break out. After much chaos, the narrator runs into Ras and his men. During the chaos, the narrator’s glasses broke, effectively destroying his identity as Rinehart and leaving him totally exposed to Ras. At this point, the narrator realizes that he is truly invisible, and that becoming a martyr would do absolutely nothing, because nobody would remember his cause.

The novel ends with the narrator trapped in a sewer. This part of the story completes the narrator’s transformation and self-realization. While imprisoned in the darkness, the narrator decides to burn the contents of his briefcase. The narrator’s past identity is completely burned away, including his high school diploma and his letter of recommendation from Bledsoe. By destroying his past, the narrator has finally completed his long and arduous transformation. By saying “the end was in the beginning,” I think that the narrator was hinting that his old self was slowly changing ever since the first events of the novel, and that the all the events in the story helped show his progression and transformation.

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~ by jdmann16 on May 21, 2011.

9 Responses to “Invisible Man (479-581)”

  1. The part about the sunglasses really relates to the theme of double consciousness that we discussed in class. He wears the glasses to disguise himself and people do see him as someone else. So then the narrator finds out the truth about how what other people think of him. Then later on he finds out that the brotherhood was just using him because the narrator is a good speaker. Then towards the end I do agree with the transformation of the narrator where no one will know about him except himself. It seems to be another form of double consciousness where he becomes different.

  2. I think the novel ended very well because it summed up the whole story of him being invisible with no identity. From the very beginning, the narrator was being seen as someone other than himself. For example, he was always accused of doing the wrong thing when he was really doing what they told him to do and then his new disguise, etc. The name Invisible Man is significant because so many people in the book saw him in completely different ways that he just couldn’t have an identity. He not only didn’t have an identity, but was eventually physically invisible from the public also.

  3. I also agree that this part of the book has a lot of double conscious themes, even though I don’t fully get them. Still I found interesting that since the beginning of the book the invisible man would talk about his grandfather and what he told him. He always ignored what his grandfather had said, until he finally embraced it and took his advice. Yet, it was this advice which lead the invisible man into the brotherhoods plan and left the neighborhood in chaos.

  4. I think this might be the most obvious example of double consciousness throughout the entire novel. The invisible man puts on glasses and is perceived as someone completely other than him. He was confused as Rinehart,then when his glasses were destroyed, I agree with the blogger, his identity is essentially destroyed.

  5. This week’s reading is all about the invisible man destroying his past identify and free himself from the perspectives of the whites. But I’m wondering if we can ever escape double consciousness. If i remembered correctly, Du Bios mentioned something called constitutive outside in his book, The Souls Of Black Folks. Which means that every political community depend its material existence that’s outside of itself. In other words, every group needs another group to define themselves. So the exclusion of African Americans is essential and it is the foundational of the American Republic. So is Du Bio suggesting double consciousness is inevitable?

  6. I agree with all the comment above about the Invisible Man and his “invisible” identity. Even though he has played a of different roles in the book, the Invisible Man has never really developed his own identity even though he had been given a number of different identities to assume ( Rinehart, college student, servile Black man,etc.) He only plays the part for a certain amount of time, and his so-called “identity” changes when he is given a new role to play, even though his identity has never been established.

  7. This weeks reading was really interesting as everything unfolded and the narrator was played by the Brotherhood, and I kind of realized that the clues were there. In the previous section, I remember brother Jack tell the invisible man that he was being paid to talk and not to think. The double conscious of the sunglasses made the narrator realize that he could have many identities at once and was seen differently by others, but still he remained invisible to the world as he was summoned to live in the dark and not look back into his past life , as it became erased, and he transformed into the ‘Invisible man’.

  8. The double consciousness comes from his glasses and how he views himself and how others view him. When his glasses broke he essentially lost the image that he put up and became truly invisible to the people around him because they could no longer see him as Rineheart.

  9. By saying “the end was in the beginning,” I thought that he meant he actually got nothing out of the experiences. No transformation, just back where he started. There could be a deeper meaning, but the civil rights movement started a few years after Invisible Man was published. Everyone likes happy endings, but life was hard on black people when this was written.

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