In the beginning of the story, the narrator’s grandfather says that the only way to make racism become extinct that African Americans should be overly nice to whites. The Exhorter named Ras had different beliefs of the blacks rising up to the whites and take power from the whites. Even though these thoughts come from the black community to take the freedom from the whites, the stories reveals that the are just as dangerous as the whites being racist. The narrator has such a hard time throughout the whole story exploring his identity. While doing so, it demonstrates how so many blacks are betraying their race because the have such a hard time dealing with it.
On his deathbed, the narrator’s grandfather is bitter and feels as a traitor to the blacks’ common goal. He advises the narrator’s father to undermine the white people and “agree’em to death and destruction (Ellison 21)” The old man deemed meekness to be treachery. The narrator’s father brings into the book element of emotional and moral ambiguity. Despite the old man’s warnings, the narrator believes that genuine obedience can win him respect and praise. However, this is not entirely right because while the whites reward him with a calfskin briefcase he is made to engage in humiliating battle royal and the rush for imitated gold coin in an electrocuted rug.
In the novel Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison, the protagonist fights to not be invisible in white society. Throughout the novel the narrator struggles to make change in society but as the story progresses he also evolves as a person. The protagonist discovers that while being born African American he had to deal with people trying to set an identity for him. In chapter one the narrator expresses confusion towards his grandfather's final words. The narrators recalls that his grandfather called himself a "traitor and a spy", in the novel the narrator remembers these words and is constantly trying to identify their meaning.
IM realizes that the anonymous letter he received to slow his process was from Brother Jack, leader of his Brotherhood Chapter. The letter says “do not forget if you get too big they will cut you down. You are from the South and you know that this is a white man’s world” (Ellison 383). The letter tells IM to slow his pace because he could become too big for the Brotherhood to handle. The letter from Brother Jack persuades IM into thinking that because of his identity as a black man, he cannot succeed in the current society.
Before leaving, however, Norton gives Trueblood $100, a gesture which angers Invisible Man, who sees it as a reward for a heinous crime. He is careful, though, to mask his emotion. When he returns to campus, Invisible Man is severely reprimanded by Dr. Bledsoe for betraying his trust and for exposing the trustee to such "trash" as Jim Trueblood. Invisible Man is made to feel as though he should have acted in a deceptive manner; he should have had sense enough to deal with white folks. Then he is led to believe that he is being given a semester off, but the young man is, in fact, expelled from college.
Mr. Norton, one of the trustees, is chauffeured by the narrator and in the trip they take together, the narrator shows him the places, where the real life that blacks have is obvious. Raged at this, Dr. Bledsoe’s reaction towards the naïve narrator is harsh and he is sent away from the college. The events have key points to them in terms of how the characters choose to behave under certain conditions. These conditions are mostly related to honor and shame, pride and humiliation, ambition to take over and passivity. Dr. Bledsoe is a black person and the Headmaster of the College.
IM's life changes after he meets the members of the Brotherhood, and they play with his mind throughout the novel. I.M. 's fascination with powerful white men proved detrimental to his success. I.M. wanted to impress a man who goes by the name of Mr. Norton, the founder of the college I.M.
College students tell stories about how when in the north, he is called Mr. Doctor Bledsoe. Yet in his letter addressed to Mr. Emerson, he ended the letter with, "I am your humble servant." It is this cowardly submission that Bledsoe uses to "gain power." He enjoys what little power he has in the African American community, so much in fact that he says that he would rather see every black man in the country lynched than give up his "power."
The Great White Father and his Tools In society there are always people who act like they are the great white father. When someone is called out for being a great white father, it is used to describe someone who abuses their high position to control the people that work for them. Someone who acts like that in today’s society is former NBA Clippers owner Donald Sterling. Sterling is a prime example of what a modern day Brother Jack or Mr. Norton is like. In Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man, white dominance is further portrayed by Brother Jack who controls the brotherhood and is using it to achieve his own selfish goal, but pretends to be helping the black people gain equality on the outside.
The use of symbolism throughout Battle Royal, the first chapter in Ralph Ellison’s novel “Invisible Man,” reveals and reifies Ellison’s view of the hindering influence that racism has had on individual identity among the black race. The narrator’s struggle at attempting to deliver his graduation speech to prestigious white men is equally representative of African Americans’ struggle to develop a self-assured identity, apart from that of a slave, among a racist society of superior whites. The narrator’s grandfather is essential to the story as he admits that he considers himself a traitor for obeying whites. It is unclear as to whether his grandfather believes himself a traitor to his own identity, his family or his entire race. He encourages