Invisible Man Commentary
There is a constant struggle for people to find their self identity in a world where society tries to force them to become somebody else. Society often sets standards that “well respected citizens” should meet, limiting people from developing their own views of the world and making their own decisions. In Invisible Man, Ralph Ellison portrays the experiences that a young black American goes through that shapes, and more often than not, blinds his identity. In my excerpt, the narrator is at the Golden Day trying to relieve Mr.Norton of his fainting spells. The vet is attending to Mr.Norton and questions Mr.Norton’s views of the “destiny” that the college brings to him. This excerpt is significant because it foreshadows many realities and symbols that the invisible man will eventually understand by the end of the novel.
The vet is used by Ellison as the “wise fool” that is supposedly mentally ill but speaks the truth. He shocks Mr. Norton and the narrator by speaking honestly to Mr. Norton, who is accustomed to people just trying to please him because of his great power. The vet boldly states,”You cannot see or hear or smell the truth of what you see--- and you, looking for destiny! It’s classic! And the boy, this automaton, he was made of the very mud of the region and he sees far less than you(95).” The blindness motif is exemplified by the vet’s words. Almost unnaturally keen, the vet calls out both the narrator and Mr.Norton to be completely unaware of each others existence. To the narrator, Mr. Norton is a genuinely good person who gives blacks the opportunity to gain power and try to do something with their lives. However, as the vet proclaims, the narrator is just “a mark on the scorecard(95)” on Mr. Norton’s achievement, which shows that the narrator is nothing but a number that represents the reputation of Mr. Norton. He only cares about the narrator because he desires to perpetuate the dominance that the whites have in...
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