Presentation on theme: "Invisible Man: Chapter 24-Epilogue Cindy Bloomfield and Emily Jorgenson."— Presentation transcript:
Invisible Man: Chapter 24-Epilogue Cindy Bloomfield and Emily Jorgenson
Themes: When one justifies the beliefs of others, he enforces his own blindness and invisibility. Wounds may be cleansed by bouts of violence, but the misunderstanding motivating the violence can result in murder. When a person finally understands a past event, his hatred can be stripped away, creating acceptance. Upon its breakdown, organization begets destruction and swallows the individual.
Thesis: "When one justifies the beliefs of others, he enforces his own blindness and invisibility." Through the breakdown of the Narrator's life within the brotherhood, Ellison shows that voicing the beliefs of others enforces blindness and invisibility and that the the Narrator's lack of identity centers on his adoption of the views of others, an action he was trained to perform in the brotherhood.
Evidence and Reasoning: As the brotherhood community in Harlem and the larger community in general fall apart, the Narrator starts "yessing" the brotherhood big shots (Ellison 513). He reports the information that he believes the committee will want to hear. "I could see the role in which I was to play... I was to be a justifier. My task would be to deny the unpredictable human element of all Harlem..." (Ellison 514). As the Narrator applies his grandfather's idea about yessing the powerful to death, he undermines his own belief system and strips away his identity. By agreeing with those in power within the brotherhood, the Narrator denies what he knows to be true and works against the change he had hoped to create. By justifying the beliefs of Brother Jack, Brother Tobbit, and the like, the Narrator turns himself into a pawn in the brotherhood's experimental game of chess, stripping away his own beliefs and identity in the process and, therefore, becoming invisible.
Evidence and Reasoning: Upon the breakdown of order in Harlem, the Narrator feels justified to follow Dupre and Scofield on a yet unknown mission. "I felt no need to lead them; was glad to follow..." (Ellison 567). Once again, the Narrator is blindly following those with designs unknown to him. In this case, the very act of following works as a means of justification and prevents the Narrator from doing what he feels is his responsibility to the community of Harlem, which he has essentially betrayed to maintain his brotherhood status. His betrayal through the justification of the beliefs of others personifies him and forms his current identity, making his real self invisible to the world. In this case, the Narrator's literal act of blindly following shows how justifying others removes sight and individuality.
Evidence and Reasoning: During the rioting in Harlem, the Narrator overhears a conversation that enlightens him to the consequences of his previous "yessing." "We stay right here... if it become a sho 'nough race riot I want to be here where there'll be some fighting back" (Ellison 552). "The words struck like bullets fired close range, blasting my satisfaction to earth... I could see it now...the committee had planned it. And I had helped, been a tool" (Ellison 553). When the Narrator finally comes to a revelation about the consequences of his yessing, it is too late for him to do anything about it. His power and will to act have been stripped away through his justification of the beliefs of the brotherhood. He has been essentially turned into an invisible shell of a man. Only now that the justification is over is the Narrator able to realize his error---he acted without thought of where his actions would take him; he became blind.
Evidence and Reasoning: When the Narrator falls into a manhole, he burns his important papers in order to try to escape. "I needed just one piece of paper to light my way out of the hole... I started with my high school diploma..." (Ellison 567). The Narrator's action of burning his high school diploma, brotherhood name, brotherhood propaganda, etc. shows that he is finally removing the identities that others had tossed upon him when he agreed with their thoughts and beliefs. The fact that the Narrator does this only when he has no other option ironically reveals his lack of beliefs due to his embodiment of others' beliefs. Before he performs the symbolic act of burning, the Narrator is unable to see, which shows that until he establishes his own beliefs he will be unable to see where he came from or where he is going.
Thesis: "When a person finally understands a past event, his hatred can be stripped away, creating acceptance." Through the realization of his grandfather's advice, Ellison shows how finally understanding a past event extracts the hatred one feels for the event and the people involved and gives acceptance a chance to blossom and bloom.
Evidence and Reasoning: The Narrator realizes what Ras' reasoning is and what he's doing. He also realizes and accepts his invisibility and his need to stop running from his problems (Ellison 559). The Narrator stops making excuses for himself. He accepts the motivation of Ras and ultimately his own motivation, which leads the Narrator to find his own beliefs and values. He tells himself to stop obeying the Bledsoes, the Nortons, and the Jacks of the world.
Evidence and Reasoning: In the beginning of the epilogue, the Narrator talks about how accepting his invisibility either put him "...in the rear of society or the avant-garde" (Ellison 572). This shows the Narrator as accepting himself as being invisible. Although he didn't know where his invisibility landed him in society, he accepted the fact that he is/will be invisible. This invisibility portrays a sense of home for the Narrator because it's what he knows to be true.
Evidence and Reasoning: Also in the epilogue, the Narrator talks about how his grandfather might not have meant to say yes to everyone, but to society and it's principles (Ellison 573). As the Narrator starts to realize that his grandfather did not tell him advice to torture him, but to help him in life the Narrator starts to accept what his grandfather had said and becomes grateful for the advice. The hatred he felt towards his grandfather throughout the book disappears and he accepts his past, with hopes of the future.
Conclusion: Ellison shows a presence of home in the Narrator through the continuing influence of his grandfather's advice and the brotherhood. He further develops how this idea of home ties into the previously stated themes through the stripping of identities bestowed upon the Narrator, the finding of the Narrator's own identity, and the understanding and acceptance of his grandfather's advice. "Perhaps to lose a sense of where you are implies the danger of losing a sense of who you are. That must be it, I thought---to lose your direction is to lose your face. So here he comes to ask his direction from the lost, the invisible. Very well, I've learned to live without direction. Let him ask" (Ellison 577).