THEME Blind loyalty and obedience can fuel the power that corrupts innocence and disguises reality.
THESIS STATEMENT The strict obedience and moral guidelines embedded in Invisible Man’s personality created in his youth helped destroy his identity through the assumption of others’ ideas to be right and virtuous.
EVIDENCE 1 “‘He believes in you as he believes in the beat of his heart. He believes in that great false wisdom taught slaves and pragmatists alike, that white is right… He’ll do your bidding, and for that his blindness is his chief asset.’” (Ellison 95) Vet to Mr. Norton
SO WHAT? The vet’s statement to Mr. Norton exposes the Invisible Man’s blind loyalty to the world. The vet shows how Norton took advantage of the Invisible Man by teaching him through the college, his only established home. He taught the Invisible Man to obey and conform to the standards set by the founders alike. This is applicable to the theme in that it shows how a person’s right to identity is stripped from them in order to remain constant with the authority’s power and vision.
EVIDENCE 2 “‘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 the 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 think about.’” (Ellison 143) Bledsoe to the Invisible Man
SO WHAT? This is an example, tying into the theme, of how the forced impression of ideas upon another creates a chain of suppressing identities. Bledsoe’s own identity had been lost to the need of power, and through that, he damaged the Invisible Man’s ideas of the world and self opinion. Bledsoe exposes the Invisible Man’s blind trust at the end of the section, sending him to New York with “recommendation” letters, further hurting his ability in the world. Bledsoe’s double standards illustrated in the quote sets the mold for Invisible Man’s ideas later on in the book with “yessing them to death.”
EVIDENCE 3 “Of course I knew he was a founder, but I knew also that it was advantageous to flatter rich white folks.” (Ellison 38) Invisible Man’s Thought
SO WHAT? This example shows evidence to the fact that the Invisible Man has already accepted his role as a pawn in another person’s game. The Invisible Man is telling Mr. Norton everything he wants to hear and in return, Norton convinces him that he is part of this big movement, this destiny. Norton clouds his mind with pathos, using the death of his daughter to convince the Invisible Man that Norton was destined to “help” the African American race.
EVIDENCE 4 “‘You are important because if you fail I have failed…’ But you don’t even know my name, I thought…” (Ellison 45) Mr. Norton talking to Invisible Man Invisible Man’s thought
SO WHAT? In this example, it becomes obvious to the reader that the Invisible Man is unimportant to the end, but important in ensuring that others similar to him remain on the same track of blindness to reality. This quote brings to light the magnitude of the Invisible Man’s blindness. He continues to participate in this “destiny” even after he recognizes the lack of his personal importance.
CONCLUSION The effects and impact of the idea of home to the Invisible Man show the importance of creating opportunity to form one’s own ideas, opinions, and beliefs. Through this, one may find their identity formed through their individual background rather than having ideas forced upon them by others. Had it not been for his time at the college, his home, the Invisible Man may not have been exposed to as many controlling ideas and powers. The Invisible Man’s home is relevant to the extent of his blind obedience which is extreme, not only by the end of the chapter, but by the end of the book.
CONCLUSION, CONT. How is it that Invisible Man, a 20 th century book about racism and social segregation still applies to our world today, even after African Americans are socially equivalent?