The audience isn’t thinking, it’s yelling its head off,” (Ellison 350). Even after delivering a riveting speech and causing an uproar in the audience, Invisible Man is scolded for not doing exactly what the Brotherhood wants. He is subjected to lessons with Brother Hambro, who will supposedly be able to teach
Towards the end of the book “Invisible Man” by Ralph Ellison, the narrator who remains unnamed thought the entire book, risks his life to save a briefcase filled with seemingly random assorted items. But later in the book the narrator is forced to burn the items in his briefcase in order to find his way out of a sewer he gets stuck in. Closer reading reveals that the items in his briefcase are more than random assorted items, but instead are symbols. Each one of those symbols represents a point in the narrator’s life where he is either betrayed or made “invisible” by the people around him. Through the book the two main recurring themes are betrayal and invisibility and the narrator keeps these symbols with him because they represent who he is.
In Ralph Ellison’s novel, Invisible Man, the main characters are used to affect the narrator’s invisibility. Each character the narrator comes in contact with in the novel, affects his invisibility. The highly ranked white men at a hotel ballroom asked the narrator to come give his high school speech for them, but in reality it turns into a night of entertainment. Dr. Bledsoe is the president at the college in which the narrator attends, and later gets kicked out due to conflicts with Bledsoe. The narrator’s grandfather plays a consistent role throughout his entire life, and continues to inflict unending thoughts in the narrator’s mind.
Values of the Invisible Man Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man is the story of an educated black man who has been oppressed and controlled by white men throughout his life. As the narrator, he is nameless throughout the novel as he journeys from the South, where he studies at an all-black college, to Harlem where he joins a Communist-like party known as the Brotherhood. Throughout the novel, the narrator is on a search for his true identity. Several letters are given to him by outsiders that provide him with a role: student, patient, and a member of the Brotherhood. One by one he discards these as he continues to grow closer to the sense of his true self.
The narrator’s invisibility first comes up in Chapter One, where he is invited to a community meeting consisting of prestigious white citizens. He comes to this meeting believing that he is to give a speech to represent his high school. He believes that in dictating a speech, the narrator will be recognized by the white community for his intelligence. Unfortunately, he is turned into entertainment when he is forced to fight in a “battle royal” with other black men. After being beaten blindfolded and pushed into an electrocuted carpet, the narrator still gathers up the strength to dictate his speech, only to find the white men “still [talking] and still [laughing], as though deaf with cotton in dirty ears” (p30).
He believed that true identity could be revealed by experiencing certain endeavors and overcoming them (Parr and Savery 86). Ellison explores this theme in Invisible Man, which depicts the title character struggling to find his identity despite facing obstacles created by both white men and his fellow blacks. In Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man, the protagonist takes on and discards a series of identities, discovering his true self only after experiencing repeated betrayals. The novel begins with the Prologue and the introduction of the narrator, who establishes his role as an "invisible man" and tells the story of his life (Lillard 833). He explains that he is invisible because others refuse to acknowledge him.
In the prologue the narrator introduces himself as the Invisible Man, simultaneously presenting himself as a character and as a theme in the novel. It is obvious that he is the protagonist telling the story of his life, but the way in which the theme is presented is more abstract. The theme is revealed as the Invisible Man explains that he has no identity because of the racist society during this time. It is evident that there is dislike towards this invisibility and gives us the novel’s most important theme, the search for identity. The prologue consists of many examples showing the intense degree of his invisibility.
He advised the narrator’s father to subvert the whites. The narrator recalls a speech he had given in high school—one that spoke of ways to advance as a black man in America. With great success, the protagonist is invited to deliver this speech to his community’s white citizens. Upon arriving, the narrator is told to take part in what is called a battle royal; believing its part of the entertainment, the narrator agrees to take part. The white men then blindfold the youths and order them to begin fighting each other.
But his speech was eclipsed by a battle royal, a violent event in which curses and slurs were hurled in his direction. Pain and suffering were forced upon him by the white patriarchs in the room and yet the boy was still concerned with the “dignity” of his speech and even after he was knocked unconscious the narrator wondered if he “would be allowed to speak,” (Ellison, 26). Even after being brutally beaten and slandered he still felt compelled to impress those who could not fully see him. He still felt as if his worth was determined by the white man’s praise. The reactions to his speech, which urges those who face oppression to “Cast down [their] buckets where [they] are, further signify the blindness of the observers.
The narrator begins the story of his realization of his invisibility at the end of his high school days, as an intelligent and diligent student in an unidentified southern U.S. state in the early part of the 20th century. Upon giving an excellent speech about the role humility plays in progress, prominent members of the community invite him to recite the speech once again "at a gathering of the town's leading white citizens" (17). At the meeting, though, the high-ranked members of the community force the narrator and other black boys to participate in what the narrator terms a "battle royal," in which they fight each other and attempt to pull fake plastic coins from an electric rug. The narrator proceeds to win the "battle royal," and presents his speech to the wealthy men (17). Throughout the delivery of his speech, they mock and harass him, failing to see who he really is.