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Invisibility in Invisible Man
Invisibility is usually taken to the extreme effect of truly being transparent, unseen by anyone and is often depicted in society as the hero, going behind the enemy's back to complete his mission. In Ralph Ellison's The Invisible Man this view of invisibility is turned around so that a man is in plain sight of everyone but do to a lack of observation nobody recognizes what he accomplishes. After beginning the novel as a man who stays quietly out of the way by doing what he is told, he is forced to leave and mold his "power" into another use. This change puts him now into a position into which he most relates to societies concept of invisibility, one who fights for fairer rights with still no one taking notice of him. Our nameless hero takes us on a journey that extends both concepts of an invisible pacifist and aggressor.
The first "form" of our main character that we see is an anxious college student who only wishes to please his superiors and do as they ask. Seemingly the perfect student, an incident occurs with a College Board member and involves the passive use of our narrator's invisibility which infuriates the school's principal. The disagreement that followed included this statement " Power doesn't have to show off. Power is confident, self-assuring, self-starting and self-stopping, self-warming and self-justifying. When you have it you know it" which is stated by the school's Principal Dr. Bledsoe (Ellison 143). The first portion of the quote is Bledoe's idea of invisibility and what the narrator will eventually learn which is that having power and invisibility can coincide with each other. The continuation of the quote just continues to further extend on how one can be "invisible" and successful as long as they have these basic ideas like self-assurance and self-justification. This discussion with Bledsoe opens the narrator's eyes to the real world and shows that being right doesn't mean you have power and without power you are nobody and remain invisible.
A changing point in the main character's eyes occurs when his moral uprightness takes a turn and he sees that in order to succeed you may need to give up morals for support. After making an impassioned speech in front of a crowd, he is offered a job by communists to do the same for them but turns it down.
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