So I guess I’m going to have to start this one off. My first impression of this book was that it was about a typical black man trying to fit into this segregated world. This is along the lines but I find it more than just that. I say this because it is about a black man trying to stand out and not fall into the stereotypes that the whites had put them in, but he does it in a different way. Instead of just fighting everyone and everything around him, he goes along with the system. Which is a bit different because I’m used to stories of them fighting against it all but he fights in an intellectual sense. I really like this book :) This reading is a bit more intense than I thought it would be. So the first couple of pages were a bit interesting. All right so it starts off with like this “royal rumble” thing I guess and the way Ellison words it is very descriptive. It was an embarrassing moment for the blacks; they were blindfolded and were told to fight until the last one is standing. All the while drunken white men were watching and getting hits in as many times as possible. It was some sort of entertainment to them. In the ring was a lady dancing around and she had no clothes on and she is described in a very vivid manner. I found this really capturing because of his choice of words (which he does in most of what I have read so far). He says certain parts of her body is like the “domes of the East Indian Temples” (22), I found this so effective how he uses such great words to describe little things. It gives the book more depth and it helped me also to pay attention more and visualize what was going on.Another thing I really enjoyed about this book is the intensity of the character. For instance he is an African American male trying to “find” himself. What I find most interesting is that although he is not respected because of his race he moves past that and continues on with his life. When he was in that ring fighting for his life he still kept the words of the speech he would be saying, shortly after in his mind. In my opinion I think that is the only reason he continued fighting. He kept going even though it was really degrading what was being done to him and all the other African Americans. In the end his fighting paid off because he got a scholarship to a four-year college (and of course this was a big deal back in the day). So Amy what did you think? Did you find his words and descriptions as interesting as I did?
Well Laurie, my first impression of the book was similar to yours. I too thought I was about a man trying to find himself within the racist society he was living in. One time I noticed about the beginning of the book is its murkiness. There aren’t many clear details to anything. There is no setting, time, and most people don’t seem to have a name. Why do you think this is, Laurie?One thing I don’t like about the book is Ellison’s style of writing. The style is very different from most authors I read and the style is hard to comprehend at times too. Like the very first page in the prologue. The protagonist first says “I” am an invisible man.” But then adds “I am a man of substance, of flesh and bone, fiber and liquids- and I might even be said to possess a mind” (1). If he is invisible, what type of invisibly does he considers himself to hold? ‘Cause it seems so far that he is viewable to other people. Also, why did Ellison not give the protagonist a name yet? Is possible because he is black? Or maybe it’s part of his invisibly, not having a name. What I believe to think when someone isn’t given a name is that they are usually sought by other people as inferior. ‘Cause if someone doesn’t even have a name, an almost essential thing to life, what other things could they possibly have?
I totally agree with you Amy. Ellison does contradict himself a lot, but I think that’s just his way of describing the different things that go through the mind of this “invisible man”. I found a similar instant where he contradicts himself (it happens to be one of my favorite parts of the book so far). He’s talking about the female in the ring and says, “to caress her and destroy her, to love her and murder her” (22). I do like this aspect of his writing; it gives excitement when reading. The narrator does this only to show the complexity of his mind. I enjoy this in the reading. I don’t think that the main character has a name for the simple reason that it gives mystery to the novel. If he was given a name at first than he would have a title and that wouldn’t make him invisible. I mean if we didn’t have names how would we be pointed out? That’s why Ellison does this, so his main character can seem invisible and not seen. Since there really isn’t a set time frame all we can conclude is that it was in the time of segregation because he was sent to a “negro college”. So him not having a name makes him just another African American man in the time w hen whites believed they were superior to the blacks. So that is why I think he doesn’t have name. Just like you said he’s just another person who’s missing an essential part of life.So Amy is there any other part of this novel that you don’t enjoy? As for me I enjoy it, but I don’t like his wordiness it gets a bit boring sometimes because he chooses to describe things in a lengthy way. Some subjects he spends paragraphs describing when he can just say it in a few sentences. But I guess that is just his style of writing and he wants us (the readers) to understand what he is saying in depth. As you continued to read did you find anything interesting? Like the stories he chooses to tell? His college experience?
There are quite a few things I don’t like about the novel. I really didn’t like how Ellison portrays the black people during the fight in the ring. He almost describes the Africans as dogs, fighting one another for the white people’s entertainment as if that is what the African Americans are made for. There is this quote when the protagonist was chosen to fight in the ring and then blindfolded. “I wanted to see, to see more desperately than ever before.” (25). The meaning of this quote I think is that the protagonist wanted to escape, escape from all the madness. But he wasn’t able to because the blindfold was too tight. “When I raised my gloved hands to push the layers of white aside….” (25). This quote I believe is extremely significant. The protagonist “gloved hands” I believe could be interrupted as the African Americans in the time when the white people believed they were the superior race. “Push the layers of white aside...” (25) the word choice Ellison uses for this quote I found to be rather interesting. Why did he refer to the blindfold as “layers of white”? Was it because the “layers of white” refer to the white people? As if the protagonist tried to push away the mounds of white people watching him fight away. What do you think about this quote, Laurie, a bit confusing?
YES! amy i thought the same exact thing. i felt like the main character was trying to push "the layers of white" away. In the sense that the white people where his burden. They are the black cloud the hangs over his happiness. All the white people that mad him and his family feel like they would amount to nothing are the white layers. The fighting scene was so well phrased. Ellison made the African Americans sound like dogs (like you said) which was what most people believed they were considering they were seen as the inferior race. All the while in the fighting scene being described as animals gives the scene more meaning. The words he choses helps the reader invision the scene in a more abstract manner. Yeah Amy I like your thoughts on that particular scene :) I was thinking the same thing!
Laurie and Amy,excellent posts--I'd say you each are about one or two posts short for the first session tho. Your halfway point is this weekend, so you are not too far behind this pace. Just a reminder to catch up a little and continue depth and attention to text.
As I read father into Invisible Man, the more I become intrigued. One thing I found interesting in Chapter 12 is when the protagonist is tended by an old lady after he fainted from the sun. I think there was a meaning to why Ellison chooses the protagonist to be tended by this lady because he wanted to show his audience the unity of black people back in the day. The protagonist was born and raised in the south while the lady was most likely from the north. But despite the different locations, the lady, even though she had no idea who this young college boy was, she chooses to take him under her wing and to help him. If the same lady saw a white person fainting, I don’t think her actions would have been the same. Also, the fact that the lady tended the protagonist brings forth a strong unity between the African Americans as if the whole race is like family. Laurie, are your views similar to mine?
The more I read, the more unity I see between the black race. Making me to believe unity is a theme in the book. The way the Africans address each other, calling each other brother, even if he never meet the person before, brings forth the strong unity. There is this one particular scene in the book that is a great example of unity the black race holds. The protagonist was down a neighborhood in the middle of winter when he witnessed an eviction of an old African American couple. He, the protagonist, along with other people witnessing the eviction, who also happen to be African American, did not like what they were seeing. The protagonist after a while was able to retain enough courage to speak his mind. So when he realized that he had the power of unite his race together and to build an army to form up against the white trustees, he did what he had believed was right. Despite the fact that the spectators did not know each other names or anything else about one another, the fact that they were the same race was the deciding factor to help the old couple. The strength of the unity within the race I believe comes from slavery. After hundreds of years of torment, how could one argue that there wouldn’t be a longing effect of love and unity afterwards?
I’m going to start this blog entry by saying “sorry Amy!” I’ve let you out in the cold and I feel awful….so here I go.Amy you and I have very similar views, so I totally see where you are going with this “black unity” thing. I mean he and the other characters in this novel are getting together to form some kind of alliance. I believe this is so because they want to stand up against the world which they live in; the world that has neglected them. I do not remember what page it is on but I do remember when the main character (who is still nameless) is given a new name. This is a very important time in his life. I feel as though once he got this new name and joined this group, who were trying to help the neighbors who got evicted he started to feel like a real person with a purpose. Not having a name like we explained before is rough because it is as if he is not a real person. For example now that he is being recognized as somewhat of a leader he has the ability to stand up for what he believes is right. I doubt he would have done this if it was at the beginning of the novel only because he was still young and trying to find himself. So Amy you talked about all the unity that this novel is portraying reminds me of some other books that I have read regarding African American unity. I feel as though the unity is their way of fighting against their enemies. Connecting to the real world, most protests do not work with only one person. There needs to be a group of people in order to follow through with what has to be done. Like in this novel after the African American couple is evicted it stirs up anger in the hearts of the other African people. Which is completely normal; it always takes one man to stand up for what is right and surely enough people will follow. And that is what happened in this case, the eviction was just another raciest problem that needed to be solved. Back to his name issue, it stuck out to me how it was after during all this he is granted a name by Jack (a member of the Brotherhood) in chapter 14. This chapter stood out to me the most. I’m happy that he is granted a name and is finding a sense of belonging to the brothers in the Brotherhood. Answering your question about the whole unity thing, I do believe they should have unified in order to fight those who were against them. I do feel that they all defended the couple just because they were black. In my opinion I think it still goes on today for example any race is quick to aid another member of their same race when in trouble. It’s only normal to want to help your “kind”. It went on in the civil rights movement as well and even in today’s war on terror. If an American sees a soldier in combat the fellow American feels pain. Its human nature to feel for people with problems; especially if there is a connection to the other, no matter what it is.Mary is another character that showed a great amount of importance. Mary took him in and treated him like family. This can also relate to the unity aspect of this novel. She saw him in need and quickly came to his rescue. Mary to me was like a close female figure to him; kind of like a mother to him she didn’t ask for money and fed him all the time. It is also ironic how they are both from the south which is like a connecting factor. Not only are they both black, they are from the south which is probably why she is so welcoming; somewhat like southern hospitality. Amy do you have any predictions for the rest of the novel?
I do agree with you Laurie. When you say it’s only natural to want to help your own kind. This reminds me when Jack is talking to the protagonist about the eviction. Jack asks him if the old couple were relatives. The protagonist replies, “Sure, were all black. You think I would have been around if there if they had been white? (254). This quote ties in too what you’re saying Laurie quite well. Anyway, back to the novel. I think its funny how Ellison chooses to name Mary, Mary. Because when I think of the name Mary, it reminds me of Virgin Mary. Isn’t Mary supposed to be a nurturing, understanding, motherly type of idol? What do you think Laurie? I don’t believe the name given to the protagonist holds much meaning. It seems the protagonist didn’t really change his emotion when he received his new name. His attitude seems very much like the “whatever” attitude. He wasn’t jumping down with happiness or thanking Jack for the name. Also, when Jack said that he is to respond to only his new name, the protagonist replies with a “I’ll try.” (268).
One of the turning points in the book I believe is when the protagonist actually does receive his “new” name. There is a bit more knowledge of him now. He is not just a substance anymore, like how he described himself at the beginning of the book, but now actually holds some importance. It’s like what I said for my earliest post. If one does not even have a name, then what could he or she possible have? It’s funny how the protagonist is not annoyed by a white person calling him brother, as opposed to earlier chapters. This new sift of trust is rather shocking for the readers. ‘Cause before this, the protagonist didn’t even like the white race. “You think I would have been around there if they had been white?”(254). The whole brother thing is a rather funny movement in the book once one think about the situation.
One passage really stood out to me. “Three white men and three black horses. And, as I turned to leave, one of the horses violently tossed its head and I saw the gauntleted fist yank down (292). This passage I believed was Ellison’s hidden way of showing the white dominance in the society the protagonist lived in. “Three white men and three black horses” Obviously, the men represent the white dominance, and the black horses, represent the black people. “One of the horses violently tossed its head”, I took this as a black person rising up against society. Also, the reason why I think Ellison addressed the horse” it” brings forth how much worth a black person held in this type of society. The horse wasn’t even given a gender. “I saw the gauntleted fist yank down”. Ellison’s purpose for writing this sentence I believed was to show his readers that even if a black person has enough courage to rise above the white dominance and try to make himself/herself worthy, a white person would come crashing down on their dreams and ego. Also, another passage that caught my attention was on the last page of chapter 16. “I thought of Bledsoe and Norton. By kicking me into the dark they’d made me see the possibility of achieving something greater and more important than I’d ever dreamed. Here was a way that didn’t lead through the back door, a way not limited by black and white. If one lived long enough and worked hard enough, they could lead to the highest possible rewards. For the first time, I could glimpse the possibility of being more than a member of a race”, (308). This is the first time in the book where Ellison does not make race a big deal for the protagonist. Instead of seeing everything black and white, the protagonist now acknowledged the fact that if one really does work hard enough, he or she will succeed. It’s interesting how much the protagonist has to go through in order to trust the white race. You’d expect to see some more trust between the races at this time since they suffered through the depression and WWI together, but there is still no unity. And Ellison does a good portraying the feud between the races.
I’ll start off with Chapter 3. After reading a good chunk of Invisible Man, I could see why Invisible Man was such a successful book. Even to this day, it’s still a widely read book. Anyway, back to the book. The theme unity kicks back into the book on Chapter 17. The scene was when Ras the Exhorter (an enemy of the Brotherhood), could not kill Clifton (a member of the Brotherhood), just because they were of the same race. “ I froze, seeing him (Ras) draw back the knife and stop it in mid-air; draw back and stop, cursing: then draw back and stop again, beginning to cry. ‘I ought to kill you. Godahm, I ought to kill you and the world be better off. But you black, mahn. Why you be black, mahn. I swear I ought to kill you. No mahn strike the Exhorter, godahmit, no mahn!’” (321). Despite the rage and hate between Ras had for Clifton, Ras could not bring himself to hurt Clifton, even after Clifton struck him. The whole black “family thing”, was the reason why I believed Ras choose not to hurt Clifton. “I ought to kill you. But you black, mahn.” Ras is crying, hurting, hating Clifton for what he did physically to him, but because Ras believes that the black race is a family, he just couldn’t hurt Clifton. “You my brother, mahn. Brothers are the same color: how the hell you call these white men brother? Shit, mahn. That’s shit! Brothers the same color. We sons of Mama Africa, you done forogot? You black, BLACK, (321).” These words Ras said, I found extremely significant. According to Ras, it doesn’t matter if you’re rich or poor, smart or stupid; the key to family is skin tone, the only thing that truly determines family, according to Ras. “You black, BLACK!” Its funny how Ellison chooses to capitalize the word repeated word “Black”, he stresses the meaning. It also suggests that Ellison is trying to tell his readers the power of black people, the culture, the unity, the life of a black person and as well as everything a black person has to endure.
There is a hint of foreshadowing I picked up on page (322), when Ras is yelling at Clifton and the protagonist. “You got bahd hair! You got thick lips! They say you stink! They hate you, mahn. You African. AFRICAN! Why you with them? Leave that shit, mahn. They sell you out. That shit is old-fashioned. They enslaved us- you forget that? How can they mean a black mahn any good? How they going to be your brother?” All the negativity coming from Ras’s mouth is foreshadowing. Ras is quick to point out the differences between the races. He degrades the protagonist with his words, hoping this tactic will change his views about the white race. Ras calls him African, almost in a degrading way. Though, Ras talks about the white race like they are a poisonous airborne disease. All this stuff that Ras is babbling on about is a clue to what is going to happen on later in the book. The sentences Ellison uses proves this theory. “How they going to be your brother?” The tone of the sentence is so powerful how one can not hint the foreshadowing. “Shut up,” Clifton said lifting to his feet. “Shut up!” (322). Ellison choice to make Clifton scream at Ras to “shut up” proves that Clifton can’t handle what Ras is saying. Ellison writes as Clifton knows what will happen in the future with the Brotherhood, but he doesn’t want to accept the outcome. Which I believe is Ellison’s secret way of hinting Clifton’s downfall in the story.
One thing I noticed about the protagonist in Chapter 19 is the shift of his attitude towards the white race. At the beginning of the novel, the protagonist attitude towards white people was afraid or annoyed. Near the middle, the protagonist learns to trust the opposite race and joins the Brotherhood to try to rid racism. Now, Chapter 19, the protagonist is sleeping with a white woman! I think the whole shift of places should be held accountable for the protagonist actions. The South (where he is from), is more reserved and backward. To even be friends with a white woman was probably considered a taboo. In the North, especially places like New York City, Boston, etc, people probably wouldn’t even things such as interracial dating or marriage. I think Ellison is trying to show his readers how the South and the North differs. Sleeping with a woman of the opposite race I believe is one of the protagonist’s biggest outlook changes since coming up from the South. Though the protagonist does have a heavy influence of the North in him, there is still some South behavior in him, Ellison made sure of this. Like the scene with the woman. At first, the protagonist was very hesitant to sleep with her because he was afraid of the outcome. Also, the protagonist feared the lady’s husband would come home before he, the protagonist, left. Another thing I found interesting about the protagonist and the woman was that they were both assign to a project, by the Brotherhood, about woman’s right. The irony of women’s right Ellison uses is quite fascinating. Because the lady is not interested in women’s right at all, she is more interested in fulfilling her temptations. Shockingly, the lady’s attitude reminds me of how a man treats his wife. Back in the day, a wife was basically treated as an object. She had no voice. And for Ellison to make the lady more interested in the protagonist than women’s rights, I find that women’s right is taking a step backward. Not forward.
As I predicted, Clifton did have a downfall. He betrayed the Brotherhood in one of the worst ways imaginable. He left the Brotherhood and went on the streets to sell dolls. Almost in a way, Clifton is mocking the Brotherhood. Clifton is suppose to bring forth the unity of the black race in NYC, but instead, he is doing the opposite. A street vendor, most people view as inferior or not able to get a job, Ellison’s purpose. Also, the items Clifton was selling were dolls. But not just any dolls. He was selling “Sambo the dancing prancing, doll” (373). With Sambo, you could “ shake him, stretch him by the neck and set him down.” (373). This description of the doll, I found a lot of significance. The Sambo doll Clifton was selling was not just any doll, Sambo was a doll that was able to “stretch by the neck”. I took this as Ellison making a reference to slavery. Because why would Ellison use the body part “neck”. “Stretching Sambo by the neck”, I took it as lynching an African American, during the times of slavery or during the segregated times. Furthermore, I looked up the name Sambo and researched it. I found out that Sambo was a racial term for someone of mixed African heritage. Later, the word became a racial slur and derogatory. As I researched more about Sambo, I noticed Sambo was also a name of a book. The book was called The Story of Little Black Sambo. Noticed how the word “black” is mention. The book was able to reach across the seas to Japan. And in Japan, the book had many controversial subjects that touched upon racism and piracy. Also, I found out that Ellison did actually choose to name the doll Sambo. Sambo was suppose to be a stereotype that represented African Americans. That perhaps black people can be nothing more than street vendors. They need to resort to the streets in order to make some cash. An extra quarter was worth a lot to the black people, the price of each Sambo doll. I also found it significant that Clifton, who was black, was selling the Sambo dolls and the buyers were mostly white. Like the black people are suppose to work for their money while the white people can afford anything they want. This reminded me of the times of slavery again. The black people were out in the fields working in the baking sun while the white people were inside theirs houses performing less demanding work than their African counterparts.
Ok so it took me a while but, I’m letting it all out now…..After reading many different things caught my attention. On page 297, the protagonist is giving his speech to the rowdy audience at one of the eviction rallies. One important passage that I read multiple time was “ ‘Yes, we’re the uncommon people-and I’ll tell you why. They call us dumb and they treat us dumb. And what do they do with dumb ones? Think about it, look around!’” (297) I found this to be interesting. So hes’s giving his speech (which I thought was well done) but his other “brothers” don’t think he did a good job. They thought he was too forward which can be understood considering he said “never give a sucker an even break! It’s dispossess him! Evict him! Use his empty head for a spittoon and his back for a door mat! It’s break him!...” (297) and he goes on and on about how he wants to fight back violently which is not what the brotherhood is about. This whole chapter (16) reminded me of Malcolm X. Malcolm X also joined a group called the Brotherhood. I found it interesting how he also was suspended from participating because of his hostility toward whites. I feel like this connection is really important because Mr. X is an important figure in African American history. Does this have anything to do with the Invisible Man himself? That was the first question that came to my mind after reading this chapter.
“This is advice from a friend who has been watching you closely. Do not go too fast, keep working for the people but remember that you are one of us and do not forget if you get too big they will cut you down. You are from the south and you know what that this is a white man’s world. So take a friendly advice and go easy so that you can keep on helping the colored people. They do not want you to go too fast and will cut you down if you do. Be smart…” (332)This is the anonymous letter that the main character got between all the riots that where going on. This was interesting to me. The way it was writing was effective. Now as for what it means I think the writer of the letter was trying to make him calm down. He was getting a bit out of hand, and this writer was in my opinion looking out for him. In most African American literature when talking about racism it is always said that if a black person becomes successful there is always a white man trying to bring them down. In connection to A Lesson before Dying Jefferson’s prosecutor did everything in his power to make him feel awful about himself. So in my opinion it was like a warning that was being sent. This letter installed some fear in the main character. So much so he went around showing his “brothers” requesting for help. He is so into his work and accomplishing his goals to give African Americans equal rights is it seems to me that he would do anything to do so, not realizing the harm he is putting himself in. Unlike some activist he got a warning. I keep referring to Malcolm X because I find a big connection between them. He was the “non-silent” protestor if you want to call it that. I find them to have much in common because X reacted the same way in protesting situations and delivering speeches. And sadly he ended up killed brutally. I found many text-to-world connections in this novel.
While the main character was in the home of the white woman activist in chapter 19 I found a lot of connections to other novels.One part that stuck out to me was when the woman was offering him something to drink. “‘Perhaps you’d prefer wine or milk instead of coffee’” (356). I quickly thought of A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. I thought about when Stephan was listening to Davin’s story about a woman offering him milk. This was her way of seducing him. Davin being a young boy, she offered him milk as a sign of luring a young boy; offering him milk was a sign of wanting to show a motherly figure to him. Unlike Davin’s story the main character takes the wine instead. Is this a way of letting her know that he is interested? I think it is because wine is seen as such a passionate drink. I believe that she was testing him. I think this is true because coffee to me is like a “business” beverage. Mostly all businessmen drink coffee in important meetings and or in the office. They don’t go to there office and have the secretary bring them wine, it’s just not typical. She dismissed the coffee idea to prove that she wasn’t all about “business”. So her offering milk or wine was like a test for him. I think if he had chosen the milk she would have understood that he wasn’t up to what she had planned. By him taking the wine it was like an opening for her to go and follow through with her seducing him.This connects to the whole motherly figure thing. The novel didn’t mention much about his mother but when Mary took him in it was like his mother. She took him in without asking for anything as if he was her own son. Is this why the main character felt comfortable to enter this woman’s home?
Clifton’s death in chapter 20 is very devastating to the main character. Although him and Clifton were not that good of friends he still felt some kind of guilt after Clifton was shot dead in front of his eyes. The protagonist felt guilty for not trying to save him. “Why didn’t you hurt him to save him?...my breath became short; I felt myself go weak. What if he believed I’d sold out? It was a sickening thought” (386). This is one of my favorite passages. He suddenly has a feeling of belonging as if the “brother” title meant something. Which is what I always thought but I believe the other members thought the main character didn’t see the whole point behind the Brotherhood. I think Clifton’s death was an awakening for him. He noticed that this was the real deal and he had to stand for the good of the things. The main character takes the blame for all that happened. So much so he organized a funeral service for Clifton. My view on main character’s reaction: I think that the only reason why he wanted to do well for Clifton and took a huge amount of guilt upon himself is because of his own ego. I feel as though if he didn’t react in the way he did it would show any compassion in him. This is one of the reasons why I like the main character; at times he takes things upon his own hands. Which shows some maturity in him, he always was mature in a sense but the realizing the truth is something that took a while for him to do. After Clifton’s death he had to learn to pick up the pieces and move on.
One of the previous posts Amy mentioned that the main character having a name didn’t change anything about the protagonist.I disagree with that. I disagree because after being recognized as a person he gained a lot of confidence. I noticed he was a bit more out spoken after he was initiated into the Brotherhood. Which is typical; once a person feels accepted by others their true colors show. At the beginning of his career in the Brotherhood he was a bit soft spoken but soon after he was so out of control they made him go away for a while to work on the way he speaks in public.He now has a sense of confidence that hurts him in the end. It hurts him only because he felt a feeling of isolation from the Brotherhood group. Towards the end the group hardly inform him about anything. I felt bad for him because had a sense of belonging when in the group; he wasn’t as invisible as he thought. But sadly they were ignoring him in a way it hurt his feelings and that is understandable because he didn’t have anyone to go to. They were his family. So maybe being granted a name was not such a good thing. Not in a literal sense but being given a name to him was an awakening for him and an acceptance from the Brothers. His acceptance made him feel powerful and he took advantage of it and it hurt him.
Hmmm… you sound like you’re on to something Laurie. But I don’t understand the connection, mainly because I don’t know much, or if anything, about Malcolm X. But I do know that Malcolm X does not have a last name. He was given one at birth, but he chooses not to carry the name throughout his life. This reminds me of the protagonist in Invisible Man. Because the protagonist does have a name, but the reader never finds out. It leaves a mystery to the novel. Anyway Laurie, you made a reference to A Portrait of a Young Man. It is possible that Ellison did choose to make this reference; I wouldn’t be surprise because I noticed a lot of references to other works of fiction through out the novel. Anyway, back to Invisible Man. Clifton’s downfall as I read later on, did no just stop at selling the Sambo dolls. In fact, his biggest downfall moment was when he got caught by the cops. Probably the worst downfall for Clifton to endure was being caught by the cops doing an act like what he was doing. First, Clifton was chased. Then, he was beaten. Last, he was shot and his life was taken away from him.” The cop was standing now and looking down at Clifton as though surprised, the gun in his hand.” (377). The imagery of Clifton running away from the cops and then killed by them brings forth the imagery of slaves running away to freedom and then caught. If the slaves were caught, they were to return where they came from and then beaten…. or worse, killed. I believe Ellison wanted to make a connection to this. Also, the name Clifton, reminded of a cliff the first time I saw it. Perhaps Clifton is like a cliff. One day he is on top of a cliff and is a part of a very important union call the Brotherhood and holds a high position, the next day he falls of the cliff selling dolls on the streets. Something I noticed about the protagonist when Clifton was shot that the protagonist blamed himself for Clifton’s death. “Why didn’t you hit him? I asked my self; try to break his jaw? Why didn’t you hurt him and save him? You might have started a fight and both you would have been arrested with no shooting…” (386). I believe the protagonist blames himself for Clifton’s death was because he felt a connection with Clifton. They were both with the Brotherhood (well, before), both young and most importantly, both black.
On page 292 like Amy previously mentioned I interpreted the “three white men and their three black horses” similarly to Amy.Like Amy I do believe Ellison was attempting to convey to his readers the power that whites had over blacks. I find it interesting how he chose a horse to symbolize a black person. A horse is a very powerful animal until it’s tamed. As a horse there are a lot of restrictions that go along with being a horse. For example there are protectors put on the side of the horses eyes so they can only see forward. They can’t see anything through their peripheral vision. This was like what the whites did to the blacks because they forced them to see only one way; they would never amount to nothing because they were of a different race. Horses also have restrictions on how they act and where they go. The strings on horses allow the rider to point the horse in which ever direction they want them to go. Which is like the white men back then, they held restrictions on the blacks and they had the ability to do so since they had power. The reigns of the horse is like the power the whites had over the blacks back then. I also find it interesting how Ellison chose to use a horse because when looking at a horse’s body you can see all the muscles in their hind area. It’s ironic how the rider has so much power on the horse but at any given time a horse can turn on the rider and cause the rider to get in an accident. Which is like the blacks, they only stayed restricted for so long and suddenly after being steered in the wrong way they turned on the rider (the whites) and caused an entire civil rights movement.
ohh I like your connection between the name Clifton and the word cliff. It is an interesting connection I would have never thought about it in that way.
“So there you have it. In a few hours Tod Clifton will be cold bones in the ground. And don’t be fooled, for these bones shall not rise again. You and I will still be in the box. I don’t know if Tod Clifton had a soul. I only know the ache that I feel in my heart, my sense of loss. I don’t know if you have a soul. I only know that you are of flesh and blood; and that blood will spill and flesh grow cold.” (387).This was the speech the protagonist made when he went up and spoke up at Clifton’s funeral. The controversy this speech has is fascinating and rather confusing to be honest. The speech appears to be sarcasm. And also appears to be degrading Clifton in a way too. “So there you have it”. The tone in this sentence is fierce. Also, the sentence has a very “whatever” type of attitude to it, almost like sarcasm. Anyhow, I hint more sarcasm when the protagonist says Clifton’s “bones shall never rise again” it seems to me that the protagonist was trying to say that Clifton will never haunt anyone again because most people from the Brotherhood felt betrayed by Clifton’s act of selling the Sambo dolls. “You and I will still be in the box”, this passage left me with a bunch of questions. I really didn’t understand it until after I read it several times. I think the protagonist meant that he and the people part of brotherhood are trapped. The word box does symbolize the meaning or being trapped. The protagonist goes on degrading Clifton. “I don’t know if Tod Clifton had a soul.” Then says” I only know the ache that I feel in my heart, the sense of loss.” These two sentences are where sarcasm comes into play. At first, the protagonist is insulting Clifton, saying he doesn’t have a soul. Then the next sentence, the protagonist says how much his heart aches from the lost of Clifton. How is it possible to be for the protagonist to be degrading Clifton one minute, the in the next instance, says how much he misses him? I noticed the last sentence of this passage was very similar to how the novel started off. “I don’t know if you have a soul. I only know that you are of flesh and blood”, (387). The first paragraph of the novel was, “I am a man of substance, of flesh and bone”. Laurie, do you think Ellison did this purposely. And if so, why do you think he made the resemblance.
hmm good question Amy, Well after re-reading this passage you have pointed out a few things came to mind.I have noticed throughout the novel an abundance of contradictions within the character. Like for example a while ago like in the first chapter the protagonist talks about the pretty girl in the boxing ring. He says he wants to “caress and destroy her…to love and to murder her” (22). To me I think its just Ellison’s style of writing. It makes the novel interesting to think of the opposite point of view. Well I would think that he is doing it purposely only because he (Ellison) has used this technique of writing throughout the novel. Personally it confuses me just as much as it confuses me Amy. As for why he does it. I think it’s supposed to show the change in the main character. At the beginning he called himself invisible but he didn’t actually feel what being invisible really was until after he was neglected by the Brotherhood. He felt his actual feeling of invisibility after realizing his loss (his brotherhood family). So as for the main character saying he doesn’t have a soul meaning he doesn’t know his “meaning” to the world. He obviously knows he has the physical part of being human but the mental part he has yet to find. His essence as a person is still lost and he is sadly still searching for it.
Your posts started off really well (full of depth) tho I wanted to see a little more. Then there was a bit of a “gap” in the posting, and not as focused on the text. Then Amy, your posts picked up a bit at the end.Then, as I was about to post this, I realized there had been a flurry of activity after I finished reading a couple days ago. Glad to see you both posted more. It was noted.
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