The patterns of trust and subsequent betrayal found in the Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison, serve to teach lessons about what it was like for African Americans in post-slavery America, when the book is set. The Invisible Man trusts easily and naively. Yet, despite working hard, he is betrayed by the institutions and people he looks up to as role models as they exploit his expectations for their own agenda. Overall, there are four strong examples of those taking advantage and hurting the Invisible Man. With each incident, he learns a lesson about how blatantly the black population is disregarded, along with being given an object that represents the underlying racism found in a society.
The color yellow symbolizes many deceitful ideas in the novel. As Nick is entering into the Valley of the Ashes, he acknowledges a billboard of an eye doctor and notes: “They look out no face, but, instead, from a pair of enormous yellow spectacles…” (23). T.J. Eckleburg is looked upon as a fake God. The billboard looks over the Valley of Ashes, implying that he is always watching. While reading, there seems to be a nonexistent reality of religion.
Although this is true and the doctor clearly states this to IM at the time, the white men in IM’s life have deceived him in order to show IM that the idea of dehumanizing not only IM but other black men is not correct. As the doctor is giving his speech about the dehumanization of IM he mentions that IM is unable to see this happening because he his being influenced by other men that everything is fine. In fact, one
Homer A. Barbee, a blind poet and storyteller, publically spoke to the people of the college, illustrating the life of the Founder. With his strong words and powerful imagery, Barbee makes the Invisible Man "see the vision" (133) and become completely oblivious to the fact that he is blind. I think that there is an interesting contrast in that Barbee is blind, yet he can "see" the God-like figure that the Founder is, while the Invisible Man, who can see, does not understand why Barbee praises him. Barbee's inability to see hinders his ability to be an precise judge of
Our next protagonist, Thelonious Ellison, although living in the twentieth century, seventy years after Bigger Thomas and nearly fifty after Invisible Man, he still suffered from racism. The oppression he experienced was slightly different from the one the two previous protagonists suffered. Yet it proved to be equally destructive on our character. Although being able to go to school, create art, mix and live among white man, Monk still had to put up with the stereotypes assigned to black men. Though the form of racism was less physical, it deeply affected Monk.
The Vet’s statement serves to foreshadow the events that Invisible Man will experience not that he is migrating North. The first woman he encounters while there is Mary Rambo. The woman who nurses Invisible Man back to health following the explosion at Liberty paints. Prescribed to the stereotypical role of mammy: “ a representation of a maternal ideal , but not caring for her own children. Her love, doting, advice, correction and supervision were reserved exclusively for white children” (Harris-Petty).
In this, there is the lack of complexity found in these images. As Chimamanda had mentioned, races become one-dimensional and flat due to the assumptions propagated and believed by our own oppressors. This intersects with ourselves as Chimamanda mentions. She recounts how she didn’t know Africans could be part of literature itself when she was young wherein she wrote about white men rather than her own. This issue comes up again as Lamar tries to spin the issue of police brutality and criminalization of young African-American men as positive.
Therefore they made him look stupid as he attempts to look respectable. These minstrel shows tried to tell a false lie that even the free slaves were also fools. They taught the white population that, it didn 't matter if a black person is free. Or the fact they might be educated or hardworking. They wanted to dehumanize the black image to a greater extent.
At the beginning, the narrator is portrayed as a successful yet clueless student then he becomes a naïve worker at a factory in New York, as the novel develops, the readers see a street radical who advocates people of the Harlem and finally becomes disillusioned after a race riot and has no other way out then to flee the community. He realizes there is nowhere that he can flee that is different—and promising for the future—so he ends up fleeing underground of the city where he literally becomes invisible. The narrator is resentful because of poverty—both physical and emotional—racism and hypocrisy that he had been experiencing from the beginning. Ihab Hassan states in Ellison's Invisible Man the African-American Negro who is portrayed as a victim, an agitator, a stranger, and a deceiver “confronts us, in the darkness of which no man can bleach himself, with the question: Who am I?” (Lane, 1973: 64) Throughout the novel, he was emasculated, received no respect and left without any roots to hold onto by others—both white and black—who never bothered to pass the appearance in order to see the real person behind. He was a symbol.
Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison follows the story of a young, educated black man struggling to survive and be successful in a racially divided society that refuses to see him as a human being. This story focuses on this nameless narrator and his journeys that lead to finding his identity. In chapters 1 through 8, many controversial events occur. In these chapters, the narrator has to give speeches to white people, fight in a battle royal just to get a scholarship, get betrayed by white and black folks, and carry with all the pain in his heart when he thinks about how he used to feel ashamed of his ancestors for being slaves. All of these events eventually help the narrator to develop his true identity and makes him realize that he is invisible.