Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man: The Motif of Eyes

Topics: White people, Black people, Race Pages: 3 (1245 words) Published: October 20, 2013
Jessica McClean

“I always come this far and open my eyes. The spell breaks and I try to re-see the rabbits, so tame through having never been hunted, that played in the hedges and along the road.” (Pg 35) In the novel Invisible Man, by Ralph Ellison, the motif eyes reoccur constantly, the first time being in this quote. Throughout the novel eyes come to resemble many different things such as the ability and inability to judge, the taking in of surroundings, and many other things. The above quote is taken from Invisible Man’s remembrance of his college. At first Invisible Man feels as though life is great because he has been given the opportunity to attend an all black college at no cost to him. When Invisible man states that when he opens his eyes and the spell breaks he is referring to the fact that outside the boundaries of the college, life is rough. In this quote, the opening of Invisible Man’s eyes stands for the realization of hardship and suffering outside of his own life. Though he may have it easy at the time, others of his race are still living all around him fighting against segregation every day. This realization, although unpleasant and unwanted at this point in the novel is invisible mans first step to understanding the way the world truly works around him.

After Invisible Man takes Mr. Norton to Jim Trueblood’s cabin, Bledsoe asks invisible man to see him but first he must stop at the chapel. This is when the word eyes reappear with a significant meaning. Once in the chapel Invisible man comes across a man giving a beautiful speech and does not realize until the end an important detail. “I saw the blinking of sightless eyes. Homer A. Barbee was blind” (Pg 133) .The fact the Barbee is blind is a very important detail to factor into his speech. Barbee is giving his speech to a chapel full of white men of high importance, and the fact that he is blind sets them apart in more ways than just the obvious. The blindness of...
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