The Deceived Invisible Man

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In the Invisible Man, by Ralph Ellison, our main character struggles to find his place in society. Throughout the novel, he finds himself in "power-struggles". At the beginning of the novel, we see the narrator as a student in an African-American college. He plays a large role in the school as an upstanding student. Later, we see the Invisible Man once again as an important member of an organization known as the Brotherhood. In both situations he is working, indirectly, to have a place in a changing world of homogony. In each circumstance he finds himself deceived in a "white man's world".

The Invisible man originally wanted to graduate from his college to be a professor, perhaps even the president of the college. His dream and life as he knew it was crushed when he was expelled from school for taking a white alumni to a black neighborhood where he should not have gone. The president of the college reprimands him for not having enough common sense to show the white man what he "wanted" to see. Dr. Bledsoe, the president, believes that it is necessary to lie to the white man. He calls The Invisible man a "nigger". By this act, Bledsoe is stating that he feels superior.

Dr. Bledsoe promises the Invisible Man letters of recommendation to white businessmen in New York. He finds that in truth the letters are mocking him and stating that he will never be invited back to the college again. Bledsoe masks his "respect" for the white man, signing the letter, "Respectfully, I am your humble servant". This power struggle between the white man, the powerful black man, and the black citizen is a twisted circle of trying to please the "other".

The Invisible man meets a character named Brother Jack. He is a member of the Brotherhood, an organization desiring peace between races. It can be said that the Brotherhood represents American communism. Brother Jack is the head of power. Once the invisible man finds his place as a political figure in the Brotherhood he is successful. He is a strong speaker and the public loves him. He receives a note warning him that he was moving too fast and that it is a "white man's world". In the end, he discovers that it was Brother Jack, the very man fighting for equality, who was responsible for the letter.

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Once again, the Invisible Man has been deceived.

There are many struggles for power in the novel. It is interesting to see how Invisible Man yearns for a place in society. He ignores his roots, and wants to become a part of the changing America. Although he is a black man and speaks of it frequently, he seems to forget that he is an African American. It is also interesting that the white people trick him. Bledsoe has managed to play an upstanding role in the white world. It is the Invisible man who suffers because he fails to recognize the false equality and separation between blacks and whites. Brother Jack also tricks him into believing that he thinks equality is the future. In reality, Brother Jack has deceived him. He believes that the white man is more powerful. His ideology of equality is false.

There is one character in the book that strongly believes in the segregation of the black man. This character is quite opposite from the Invisible Man and is known as Ras the Exhorter. Ras believes in returning to his roots as a black man and has a hatred for the white man. It can be said that perhaps Ras is modeled off of Marcus Garvey, a political figure of the 50s who believed in returning to Africa and his roots. The Invisible Man does not agree with Ras's views, in fact the are enemies. He seems to be running from his roots throughout the novel.

The Invisible Man seems to be ashamed of his past. In these two separate occasions, he finds himself at the downfall of the white man. He is betrayed by society because of his race and attitude towards equality. The strongest black character in the novel is his worst enemy. It is almost as if the Invisible Man wants to deny his past and who he is as a person. As a result, he has a loss of identity. http://www.boomshaka.com/garvey/africa.html


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