The opening scene of the novel introduces the theme of blindness. As the narrator says, “When they approach me they see only my surroundings, themselves, or figments of their imagination-indeed, everything and anything except me,” (Ellison 3). This quote shows how people do not see the narrator. The narrator says that people “refuse” to see him. An example of this is when he bumps into a white man at night. The narrator says, "…when it occurred to me that the man had not seen me, actually, that he, as far as he knew, was in the middle of a walking nightmare!” (Ellison 4). This quote is an example of how people are blind and do not see the narrator. The narrator realizes that the man had insulted him because he did not see him. Blindness is a recurring theme in the novel, and shows how people refuse to see the truth in their community. Another example of blindness in the beginning of the novel is the battle royal that the narrator is forced to take part in. All of the fighters are blindfolded, and therefore are blind to see how the white people are taking advantage of them. Blindness is shown as a negative theme in the novel.
Another important recurring theme introduced at the beginning of the novel is that of invisibility. This is one of the most important recurring themes of the novel, hence the title Invisible Man. This theme is directly related to the theme of blindness, because if one person is blind, then ...
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...ith money on the floor and tell the blacks to get the money. The blacks dive on the rug, only to find that it is electrified. The whites push the blacks onto the rug so that the whites can laugh at the black people’s pain and suffering. This demonstrates the stereotype of whites in charge of blacks and blacks being submissive to the whites. The white people are forcing the blacks to do something for the whites’ entertainment. The narrator wants to overcome these stereotypes and have his own individual identity.
The opening scene in Invisible Man introduces some of the major themes of the novel, such as blindness, invisibility, and the obstacle of racial stereotypes. Blindness and invisibility are very important recurring themes that are directly related to each other, and breaking racial stereotypes is a theme that was important during that time period in America.
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