No matter how hard the Invisible Man tries, he can never break from the mold of black society. This mold is crafted and held together by white society during the novel. The stereotypes and expectations of a racist society compel blacks to behave only in certain ways, never allowing them to act according to their own will. Even the actions of black activists seeking equality are manipulated as if they are marionettes on strings. Throughout the novel the Invisible Man encounters this phenomenon and although he strives to achieve his own identity in society, his determination is that it is impossible.
In the beginning of the novel, the Invisible Man is forced into a battle royal with other black youths in order to entertain a white audience. In this battle, he is blindfolded, and as they boxed one another, an electric current runs through the floor and shocks them. Symbolically, the blindfold represents the black youths' inability to see through the white men's masks of goodwill. The electricity represents the shocking truth of the white men's motives, conforming the boys to the racial stereotype of blacks being violent and savage. The electric current sends the boys into writhing contortions, which is the first instance where the marionette metaphor is exhibited in the book. Even though the Invisible Man's speech is the reason he thinks he is at the event, the battle royal then becomes the true entertainment for the white folk who are watching. Electricity is used later in the book to demonstrate this marionette metaphor when he receives "shock therapy" in a hospital after being injured at Liberty Paints. The wires that are attached to him are the "strings" of the marionette that dances on cue with the shocks he receives. The doctors sit back and watch him spasm from the shocks saying, "they really do have rhythm." In both the instances involving electricity, the Invisible Man has no control over his movements. The marionette metaphor is therefore exemplified...
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