Invisible man annotations Invisible Man


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Lydia Tobin


Invisible man annotations

Invisible Man-


  • The narrator begins by saying he is invisible because people choose to ignore him due to him being black.

  • To the narrator this is both an advantage and a disadvantage.

  • He talks of attacking a white man and stealing power from an electric company to power his 1369 light bulbs.

  • The narrator takes marijuana and listens to Louis Armstrong he talks of a black woman who both loves and hates her master who gave her sons but never set them free in the end she poisons the him before her sons can kill him.

  • He talks about how marijuana and the music controlling him by blurring the sense of time eventually the narrator stops with the marijuana as he says it limits his ability to act.

  • He says that the beginning of his story is really the end and wonders who really was at fault for his near murder of the blond man and how he would have been blamed in he end.

Chapter 1

  • The book starts of talking about the narrators grandparents.

  • The narrator says he is not embarrassed of his grandparents but only ashamed that he once was.

  • The grandfather who until this point has lived a very meek life says on his deathbed that in being so obedient toward whites he has been traitorous to his own people.

  • The narrator’s father is told by his father on his death bed to agree ’em to death and destruction as he talks about the whites.

  • The narrator’s father is ten haunted by these words as he continues to act submissive toward the whites in his town.
  • The narrator remembers giving a speech at his high-school graduation.

  • The speech pushes for submission toward whites as the way for blacks to achieve success.

  • He is invited to a gathering of the leading whites.

  • The narrator is told he will take part in a battle royal

  • Naked blonde white women with American flag on her stomach narrator told to look while others in the crowd threaten him if he does

  • He is then blindfolded and forced to fight with other boys in a boxing match. The whites around him start screaming threatening him as the ginger colored nigger.

  • He loses in the last round (represents his life?)

  • Rug covered with coins and bills boys electrocuted when they reach for the money while whites try to push them onto the electric rug.(Blacks must suffer for even small amounts of wealth and can only get so much as the whites will allow)

  • Narrator gives his speech and the whites like it and reward him with a briefcase containing scholarship to the state college for black youth

  • Gold coins are bronze

  • Dreams of the circus with his grandfather who doesn’t laugh till he opens the scholarship letter to find it saying to keep this Nigger-Boy running.

“When I was praised for my conduct I felt a guilt that in some way I was doing something that was really against the wishes of the white folks, that if they had understood they would have desired me to act just the opposite, that I should have been sulky and mean, and that that really would have been what they wanted, even though they were fooloed and thought they wanted me to act as I did.”

Chapter 2

  • Narrator remarks on colleges bronze statue of the founder says it is cold and paternal ( bronze is brought up 2 times in 2 chapters)
  • Narrator gets a job driving a millionaire founder Mr. Norton around the campus.

  • He shows Mr. Norton the countryside and mistakenly shows him some old slave huts now home to poor black sharecroppers.

  • He then reveals that he is sorry to have taken Norton here because Trueblood lives here.

  • Trueblood is hated for impregnating his daughter.

(True blood may stand for the barbaric idea whites have of blacks as a race and they believe that the true core of them is barbaric so actions like this seem fitting?)

  • Norton ask to meet Trueblood

  • Trueblood explains to him that he was having a weird dream when he awoke to having sex with his daughter.

  • Trueblood remarks that whites have treated him better after this horrible action.

  • Norton gives Trueblood 100$

  • Norton then ask for whiskey after returning to the car.

Chapter 3

  • The narrator takes the now unconscious Norton to the closest bar he can think of the Golden Day which is also a brothel.

  • A group of mentally unstable black war vets are there with no attendant

  • The narrator tries to go in quickly to get the whiskey and leave but the barman won’t allow it.

  • The vets help carry in Norton.

  • Norton awakes after having been fed whiskey

  • Attendant appears in the area of the brothel and starts a fight with the vets. Norton faints again.

  • One of the vets claims to be a doctor and helps carry Norton to the upstairs brothel

  • After Norton wakes the vet insults him by saying he views the black narrator as a mark on his scorecard and not as an actual man of real worth.
  • The vet also insults the narrator by saying he sees Norton as a god and that he is a blind and his blindness is his best attribute also he sais he is an automaton doing all he is told.

  • Norton gets angry and demands to be taken back the ride is silent the rest of the way.

Chapter 4

  • Mr. Norton asks to be taken to his room and requests a personal visit from Dr. Bledsoe who is the current president of the college.

  • The narrator tells Bledsoe of the day’s events and is scolded because he should have known only to take Norton to places the school would want him to see.

  • The narrator is told to leave after taking Bledsoe to Norton’s room.

  • Norton tells the narrator to attend the chapels services that night.

  • The narrator returns to his room later that night to find a note telling him to meet Bledsoe in Norton’s room.

  • Norton is alone when the narrator arrives as Bledsoe had to leave but that he can see him after chapel services in his office.

  • Norton tells him he explained it wasn’t the narrator’s fault that day and that Bledsoe seemed to understand.

Chapter 5

  • Reverend Homer A. Barbee is the black preacher

  • Sermon is about the college founder who was born a slave but after coming out of a comma he taught himself to read then later escaped slavery and went north for further learning returning later to the south to found the college.

(This goes against the narrators ideas of being meek and submissive to whites as the founder went blatantly against them and was seemingly very successful.)

  • Sermon moves the narrator

  • Narrator sees the preacher stumble and when his sunglasses fall he sees he is blind.

(Blindness is brought up again narrator vs. preacher)
Chapter 6

  • The narrator meets with Bledsoe after the sermon.
  • Bledsoe is angry over the places the narrator took Norton

  • The narrator defends himself saying Norton ordered him to take him to True bloods but Bledsoe argues that whites make stupid request and being from the south the narrator should know how to lie his way out of obeying them.

  • Bledsoe threatens to use a slave leg shackle as punishment.

  • The narrator threatens to tell that Bledsoe broke his promise to Norton not to punish him.

  • Bledsoe tells the narrator that he must go to New York that summer to pay for his next years tuition and hints that if he does well he may return to school.

(done instead of flat out expelling him.)

  • Bledsoe offers to right letters of recommendation to assure work for the narrator.

  • The narrator says he doesn’t resent is punishment and is praised by Bledsoe for his attitude.

  • The narrator feels bad over his meek behavior as he remembers his grandfathers dying words

. “I’s big and black and I say ‘Yes, suh’ as loudly as any burrhead when it’s convenient, but I’m still the king down here. . . . The only ones I even pretend to please are big white folk, and even those I control more than they control me. . . . That’s my life, telling white folk how to think about the things I know about. . . . It’s a nasty deal and I don’t always like it myself. . . . But I’ve made my place in it and I’ll have every Negro in the country hanging on tree limbs by morning if it means staying where I am.”

Chapter 7

  • The Narrator takes a bus to New York and meets the war vet that had yelled at Norton.

  • The man is being transferred to a psychiatric ward in Washington DC by Bledsoe’s orders.

  • The narrator refuses to believe Bledsoe was involved.
  • The man tells him to hide himself from whites, authority and the invisible man pulling his strings.

(Invisible man is mentioned as white overpower controlling narrator’s life.)

  • Crenshaw the mans attendant tells him he talks to much to which the man says he only verbalizes what most people only feel.

  • As the vet changes buses he tells the narrator to be his own father.

  • After arriving in New York he is shocked to see a black officer directing white drivers in the street. And a man with a West Indian accent talking about “chasing them (whites) out.”.

  • The narrator feels a riot may break out at any moment

  • He finds a room in a building called the Men’s House.

Chapter 8-

  • The narrator spends the next few days distributing the letters of recommendation to the trustees in the area all but one meant for a Mr. Emerson.

  • He is left with no answer for a while and when he follows up on the men he is given only polite refusals by their secretary’s.

  • The narrator is running low on cash

  • The narrator begins to doubt Bledsoe’s intentions in “helping” him with the letters.

(first experience of having been possibly betrayed by someone in power which is made worse by the fact that he never resisted.)
Chapter 9-

  • The narrator goes to deliver the final letter and meets Peter Wheatstraw.

  • Wheatstraw recognizes his southern roots through his dialect. He then goes on to describe Harlem as a bear’s den.

  • This reminds the narrator of the story of Jack the rabbit and Jack the bear.

  • Narrator stops at deli for breakfast where waiter says he thinks he would enjoy the special with pork chops, grits, eggs, hot biscuits, and coffee the narrator finds this racist and orders orange juice toast and coffee.

(goes against whites if in a very small way against this stereotype)

  • The narrator goes to Emerson’s and meets his son

  • He gives the letter to the son who returns very upset and tells the narrator to read the letter which states that he has earned permanent expulsion and had to be sent away on false pretenses it ask the reader to allow the narrator to continue in his hopes of returning to the college.

  • Emerson’s son says his father won’t hire the narrator but that he will find him work at the liberty paints plant.

  • The narrator becomes very angry and thinks on the fact that Bledsoe asked he be allowed to continue hoping in vain to return thinking back on the idea of keeping him running.

  • He calls the factory and is told to report to work in the morning.

(tied to the dream with grandpa shows him his grandfather was right in saying it is wrong to meekly accept injustice like he did at the college.)
Chapter 10-

  • Narrator arrives at liberty paints sees a sign reading “keep america pure with liberty paints.”

  • Meets his new supervisor Mr. Kimbro

  • Kimbro leads him to a room filled with buckets of paint

  • Kimbro shows him how to make the paint by he opening the buckets filled with a foul, milky brown substance and then he drips ten drops of another black chemical into them he then stirs it until it turns a glossy white he then puts the paint onto wooden bocks allowing them to dry and if they come out pure white then the job was done correctly.

(White superiority but white isn’t always so pure)

  • Kimbro says that liberty white is the purest white there is that is can cover up just about anything.
  • Kimbro tells the narrator to go to the tank room to get more of the black mix-in but fails to tell him what the chemicals name is so the narrator uses smell to pix a solution and brings that back it turns the paint sticky and grey though.

  • Narrator is yelled by Kimbro at for putting concentrated remover into the paint and ruining 75 buckets of paint. Kimbro gives the narrator the correct mix in then leaves him to his work.

  • The paint still dries slightly grey but Kimbro doesn’t seem to notice.

  • The narrator meets Lucius Brockway in the furnace room who thinks all assistants are college grads trying to take is job he still works with the narrator though.

  • The narrartor is instructed to watch the gauges on the boiler.

  • Brockway is very proud of his job as he is irreplacable in that he is the only one who can mix the paint mix perfectly.

  • The company slogan for the color is “If It’s Optic White, It’s the Right White.” This reminds the narrator of an old Southern saying: “If you’re white, you’re right.”

  • While getting his lunch the narrator runs in on a union meeting. They call him a fink when they learn he is Brockway’s assistant and after saying they are going to investigate him they let him get his lunch.

  • When Brockway learns about the union meeting he gets angry with the narrator threatening to kill him if he doesn’t leave the plant. The narrator denies being involved with the union but Brockway still attacks him during this time the boiler begins to hiss and Brockway orders him to turn the wheel to release the pressure but the narrator is unable to and the boiler explodes.

  • The narrator falls unconscious under the machinery and some “stinking goo”

“Our white is so white you can paint a chunka coal and you’d have to crack it open with a sledge hammer to prove it wasn’t white clear through.”
Chapter 11
  • The narrator wakes up to a man who he sees with a third eye he is wearing a pair of white overalls he is then given something to swallow that causes him to pass out again.

  • The narrator wakes again to the third eye burning his own eyes as he lies on a cot. The “pink-faced” doctors ask him for his name but he is in to much pain.

  • Doctors use shock therapy on him

(shock therapy + electric rug electricity as a symbol for something.)

  • The narrator cant remember why he is hospitalized

  • The narrator compares the hum of the mechanical instruments to the cry of a woman in pain.

  • The narrator listens as the doctors argue over how to proceed with his treatment. One of the doctors says he wants to continue with the shock therapy while one argues this method as barbaric and something they wouldn’t do if the narrator had been from a Harvard or New England background. The first doctor says the shock treatment would work like a lobotomy and change his entire personality. Another doctor asks of the effect this would have on the narrator’s psychology and is told that is of no importance. A different doctor then puts forth the idea of castration but is denied and the shock therapy continues.

  • The shock therapy is intense and causes the narrator to shake uncontrollably and the doctor’s comment on this is that he is dancing and that they (blacks) really do have rhythm.

  • The doctors ask him questions and right have to write them down so he can understand they ask him his name and other personal questions and he can remember none of it till they ask about his mothers name and he can only remember a mother as someone who screams when your in pain which makes him think of the sounds of the machines.

  • The doctors then ask him who Buckeye the Rabbit was?

  • This question angers the narrator as he is buckeye the rabbit and it annoys him that the doctors know his old identity.
  • The doctor then asks him who Brer Rabbit was. The narrator thinks sarcastically on this that Brer was “your mother’s backdoor man” and that Brer Rabbit and Buckeye were the same Buckeye was when you were young and innocent and Brer when you were older.

  • One doctor smacks the glass as the narrator stayed silent but one looked at him with a pleased expression

  • The nurses and doctors inspect the narrator and one of the nurses seems concerned that he is so strong but is told to simply take note of it and move on.

  • The narrator finds that he is in the factory hospital he is then told he is cured and told to go sign release papers so that he could claim his compensation.

  • The narrator is told by the doctor to seek easier work as he is not suited for factory work

  • The narrator is confused if the doctor is a factory worker or doctor but accepts and begins

asking the doctor if he knows Mr. Norton or Mr. Bledsoe saying they are old friends.

  • The narrator leaves the hospital feeling as though he has an alien personality he soon realizes he has lost his fear of the important men.

  • He sees a platinum blond woman eating a red apple on his bus to Harlem.

(second mention of blond woman?)

  • After leaving the subway the narrator collapses on the street and is taken by people on the street to the home of a kind black woman named Mary.

  • When he wakes up she ask him why he moved to New York he tells her he wanted to become an educator and she warns him of the corrupting influence of the city saying as a she came from the south too that “I’m in New York, but New York ain’t in me.”. As the narrator leaves Mary tells him to come to her if he ever needs a place to stay away from the Men’s House saying she has a “fair rent”.
  • When the narrator returns to the men’s house he receives glares for his white overalls and the narrator realizes he cannot stay there anymore as he scorns those older generations that dream of black empires in business and pities those who still hope for equality with segregation. He also states how he hates those who work small jobs but dress like the rich southern whites would to cover their own low standing in life.

  • The narrator sees a man who he thinks is Bledsoe and goes and empties a spittoon on him it turns out instead to be a Baptist preacher he is able to escape the building without being caught though and sends an amused porter to get his bags from inside.

  • The narrator is banned for 99years and a day from the Men’s House.

  • The narrator rents a room from Mary who annoys him by prodding him to become more involved in the black community but is overall very forgiving when he fails to pay for food or rent

  • As winter begins to fall in New York the narrator begins to take up speech’s again.

Chapter 13-

  • The narrator meets a street vendor selling baked yams and experiences a sudden nostalgia for the South. He buys three to eat as he walks down the street, feeling completely free. He thinks then about his friends back in the south who would deny themselves things like this thinking it shameful and stereotypical.

  • As he is walking down the street he sees a group of people gather to watch as a black woman is evicted from her home.

  • As she starts to cry out over the white man who is taking her bible from the home and about how all the white folk are against them the narrator begins to feel motivated to do something.

  • The narrator then collects various articles belonging to the old couple including there freedom papers and listens to the crowd grow angry after the old woman is struck by the man who is taking her things who the proceeds to pull a gun on the crowd.
  • The narrator is compelled to make a speech about how they are a law abiding people which eventually led to a mob of people attacking the man who pushed the woman and then they all worked together to bring the woman’s things back into the house.

  • Whites appeared to help

  • The police showed up and he backed into the house and a white woman tells him he must escape across the rooftops. She calls him brother which he doesn’t understand.

  • He meets a man named Brother Jack who ask him to become the paid spokesman for his political party’s Harlem Branch. The narrator refuses but is given the mans card if he changes his mind.

Chapter 14-

  • The narrator changes his mind as soon as he returns to Mary’s when he realizes how giving she has been letting him stay for so long without rent since his compensation had run out awhile ago.

  • He agrees to meet Jack at Lenox Avenue.

  • A car is there to pick up the narrator with Jack and a bunch of other men.

  • They drive to a hotel called the Chthonian

  • A party is taking place in the hotel

  • The narrator meets Jack’s mistress Emma who remarks that the narrator should be a little darker for the position.

  • Jack tells the narrator about his organization called the Brotherhood that fights for people who have been “dispossessed of their heritage”

  • The narrator is given some documents to read to help him decide if he wants to join.

  • Jack ask the narrator if he wants to become the next Booker T Washington.

(The narrator had wondered over this earlier in the book)

  • Jack then tells of a coming world crisis that can only be avoided by action of the people.

  • The narrator takes the job and is told he must break all ties with his past and is given a new name and 300$ back rent. The narrator is told he will receive 60$ a week and must move to a new apartment supplied by the brotherhood.

  • The narrator returns to Mary’s late at night.

Chapter 15-

  • The narrator notices when he wakes up a cast iron coin bank next to his door at Mary’s. It is in the shape of a black man with bright red lips and when a coin is placed in the hand and a lever is pulled on the back the coin is tossed into the mouth.

  • The narrator breaks the machine in a fit of rage. Ashamed by his actions the narrator raps the pieces up in a newspaper hiding it in his coat pocket he then leaves Mary’s leaving what he owes her and not telling her he is leaving.

  • The narrator tries to throw away the package but the owner of the house yells at him to take it out of her trash bin, he then tries to leave it at an intersection but a man thinking he left it there on accident brings it back to him finally he just puts the package in his briefcase.

  • The narrator sees people on the subway reading about a violent riot in Harlem over an eviction.

  • The narrator buys a new suit then calls Jack who tells him to go to his new apartment on the Upper East Side where literature on the brotherhood awaits him he is told he will give a speech at the Harlem rally that night.

the cast-iron figure of a very black, red-lipped and wide-mouthed Negro . . . stared up at me from the floor, his face an enormous grin, his single large black hand held palm up before his chest. It was a bank, a piece of early Americana, the kind of bank which, if a coin is placed in the hand and a lever pressed upon the back, will raise its arm and flip the coin into the grinning mouth.

  • Members of the brotherhood drive the narrator to the rally. It is happening in an old boxing ring (back to a boxing ring).
  • The narrator sees an old photo of a professional prize fighter who had lost his sight in a boxing match then died later in a home for the blind.

  • The narrator is told not to give his speech till the crowd is in a frenzy.

  • The narrator goes onto the platform where people are shouting all around him about how they have dispossessed the dispossessed. The narrator forgets his readings and all the catchphrases of the brotherhood when he is in front of the crowd so instead he gives a speech based on blindness specifically how we (blacks have been made blind in one eye by them(whites) while a “dirty scoundrel” throws stones at us.

  • He uses only words like us and them to separate blacks from whites while saying that they (blacks) must rise up to reclaim their sight and be able to see both sides of the street.

  • The narrator is met with applause by the audience but the brotherhood is annoyed that he ignored what they stand for as a group they decide to send him away to a man named Brother Hambro to help specialize his natural talent.

  • The narrator leaves feeling completely different from before but at the same time he begins to think about his grandfathers words again.

Chapter 17-

  • The narrator studies the brotherhoods ideals for months and is then appointed head spokesman for the Harlem group. He receives his own office and there he meets a man named Tod Clifton another black employee of the brotherhood who tells him about Ras the Exhorter who is the groups biggest opponent as he calls for complete mistrust of all whites.

  • Ras is the same man the narrator saw giving a speech when he arrived in Harlem.

  • The narrator is set to give a speech at a protest rally for the brotherhood over rasist eviction but the followers of Ras show up and fight insues.
  • The narrator is unable to distinguish his followers from Ras’s but finds Ras fighting with Tod, Ras pulls a knife but doesn’t kill Tod due to their shared skin color. Ras ask the narrator why he is with the brotherhood who are made up of mainly whites he insinuates that the narrator is betraying his kind for the prizes the brotherhood offer him(white women?)

  • Ras tells him that eventually the white members of the brotherhood will betray the blacks.

  • The narrator throws himself into his work and succeeds in getting many leaders of Harlem to fall behind him but he is still haunted by people from his past in his dreams.

The narrator hasn’t completely left is old life behind and been reborn as he thinks.

  • The narrator receives a letter telling him to not go so fast and to remember he is still a lack man living in a white world.

  • The narrator ask Tod if anyone in the brotherhood hate him or would send this Tod tells him not to worry that he is well liked.

  • The narrator ask Tod if he is from the south and Tod tells him he was part of a black chain gang for years due to him saying no to a white man he gives him the leg iron from then to remind the narrator of there real cause.

  • Brother Wrestrum another black member of the brotherhood notices the leg iron and tells the narrator he should put that away he hints that some of the brotherhood members have racist ideas and wouldn’t like it. Wrestrum then suggest all members of the brotherhood wear a symbol so they can be recognized during fights

  • A magazine editor call’s wanting an interview with the narrator the narrator try’s to get out of it by saying all the people in the brotherhood work together(wrestrum agrees) but the editor says she wants a hero figure for her readers eventually the narrator agrees partly to spite Wrestrum who is still in the room.

  • Two weeks later Wrestrum accuses the narrator of using the brotherhood to further his own ideas using the interview as evidence the committee finds him innocent in the case of the interview but transfer him away from Harlem to women’s rights movements as they investigate him further.
  • The narrator decides to devote himself fully to this new job. ( leaves without complaint again.)

Chapter 19-

  • The narrator does his first speech for woman’s rights and is invited by one of the woman back into her home to discuss brotherhood ideas.

  • The narrator soon realizes she is trying to seduce him they sleep together and later that night her husband returns but they sleep in different rooms and he only pokes his head in to ask her to wake him up early.

  • The narrator dresses quickly and leaves he vows he will never let himself end up in this situation ever again.

  • The brotherhood brings the narrator back telling him Clifton has gone missing and that he will be transferred back to Harlem The brotherhood has lost popularity in Harlem while Ras has gained even more followers.

  • Jack tells the narrator that he must attend a meeting the next day.

Chapter 20-

  • The narrator visits a bar and notices two men who used to come to his speeches he addresses them as brother and is met with hostility for it. The narrator find that the jobs the brotherhood once got for black community members have disappeared and now the two old members accuse him of white fever since he went to go give his speeches to the women’s rights movement.

  • The narrator returns to his office looking for brother tarp but there is no-one there . the narrator waits to be called to the meeting but is never called he goes to the headquarters anyway and finds the meeting already taking place. Angered because they had never intended to call him the narrator leaves the building. He finds Tod Clifton on the streets selling Sambo doll’s in the street.

(Sambo- lazy but loyal slave.)
  • The police come as Clifton is not allowed to sell his dolls in the street him along with the crowd that had gathered to watch walk around the corner. The narrator feels betrayed by this and crushes a doll that was left behind but ends up putting it in his briefcase.

  • The narrator follows Clifton and sees him strike a police officer and then get shot afterward.


  • The narrator is stunned by the death tries to make the doll dance he then has to tell the upset young members of the brotherhood that ask him if Clifton is dead that he is.

  • The narrator then organizes a funeral march over this unnecessary death

  • Sends some women to reclaim the body

  • The people rally behind this march and the narrator gives a sobering speech as more of the previous members of the brotherhood join in the narrator notices a growing tension that the narrator hopes the brotherhood will use to reestablish itself in Harlem.

Chapter 22-

  • The narrator returns to find Jack and the other brotherhood members angry at him for his march.

  • They say he was hired to speak not to think and they would never have gotten behind this cause as it was anti negro dolls being sold.

  • The narrator tells jack that the community thinks the brotherhood has betrayed them Jack responds by saying they tell the community what to think.

  • The narrator then accuses jack of trying to be “the great white father” but just then Jacks fake eye pops out.

  • Jack says how he lost it doing his duty to the brotherhood and this should prove his devotion. The argument dies of after this.

  • Jack tells the narrator to go visit brother Hambro to learn the brotherhood’s new program.

Chapter 23-

  • The Harlem community’s outrage from the funeral still persist

  • The narrator finds a protest run by Ras he sais how the Brotherhood has failed to act upon this tension created from the funeral march.
  • Two of Ras’s follower’s attack the narrator but he escapes.

  • The narrator then goes and gets some sunglasses with green lenses as he is walking down the street he is confused for a man named Rinehart by a woman thinking he is her bookie one thinking he is her pimp and a group waiting for him to give a sermon e is annoyed he doesn’t know who his man is when everyone else seems too. He gets a hat to complete his disguise and gets to Brother Hambro’s apartment.

  • Brother Hambro tells him the Brotherhood intends to let go of their influence in Harlem and instead focus on national issue.

  • The narrator is angry over this and decides to follow his grandfathers words he will make the brotherhood think it is doing well while he develops a relationship with one of the head mens women.

  • He thinks to try to get close with Emma, Jack’s mistress

Chapter 24-

  • Violence spreads with Ras’s help in Harlem small incidents are exaggerated by the media.

  • The narrator tries to alleviate the violence and gives the Brotherhood false talk of a cleanup program along with a list of fake new members. The brotherhood doesn’t suspect him.

  • The narrator decides against Emma and instead tries to seduce sybil a neglected wife of a Brotherhood leader.

  • The narrator invites Sybil over both of them get drunk but the narrator then gets a call from the brotherhood telling him to come quickly he hears breaking glass then the line dies.

  • The narrator takes a cab own to the headquarters along the way there birds fly over him and he uses his briefcase as a shield as he is pelted with bird poop.

  • A riot erupts in Harlem and when the narrator ask what started it they tell him that it was the death Ras and even some white woman.


  • The narrator soon learns that the riot is the fault of Ras and The brotherhood who purposefully ceded power in Harlem to Ras so that the area would fall to chaos.

  • The narrator falls into a plot to burn a tenant building but ends up having to go back into the flames for his briefcase.

  • The narrator then runs through a building with multiple dummies hanging from the ceiling.

  • He runs straight into Ras after this who is riding around on a horse dressed as Abyssinian chief he orders his followers to hang the narrator with the dummies the narrator tries to talk his way out but eventually must just run and runs right into two policemen who ask about the contents of his briefcase he runs and falls into an open manhole the police just laugh and close the lid.

  • To get light the narrator burns the contents of his briefcase including his diploma the hate letter the note with his new name on it and Clifton’s doll. The handwriting on the name note and the hate letter are the same.

  • The narrator falls asleep and dreams of all who had wronged him as they castrate him saying they had now striped him of his dilutions.

  • The narrator wakes and decides to stay underground saying “the end was in the beginning”

And I knew that it was better to live out one’s own absurdity than to die for that of others, whether for Ras’s or Jack’s.

  • “I’m an invisible man and it placed me in a hole—or showed me the hole I was in, if you will—and I reluctantly accepted the fact.”

  • The narrator finishes with saying perhaps his grandfathers words meant to ccept the wrongs of society and therefore transcend them.

  • The narrator says it is mans fate to be one and yet many.(meaning we may be separate but society makes us all act as a single group.)
  • He accounts a story about how he met a lost Mr. Norton on the train and asked him if he knew him saying he is his destiny and that he made him Norton thinks he is crazy and the narrator laughs as Norton boards the train.

  • The narrator ends by saying he doesn’t think the book has helped his alleviate his pain to the world as he hoped it would. And that even an invisible man has social responsibilities.


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