narrator, a polite, intelligent, and young black man, living in the south
introduces himself to us as “Invisible Man”(IM). Now, the character isn’t
literally invisible, but figuratively in the way that his peers see him.
Because of this “invisibility”, IM has hidden himself, and his true feelings
from the world around him. Instead of showing himself, he tells us that he has
gone underground to write about his struggle with being invisible.
of his talent in giving public speeches, he finds himself speaking publicly in
front of the most important white men in the town, at the Battle Royale. The
men amuse themselves by throwing many young black men into a ring and having
them fight each other for an indecent pay. After the horror ends and IM gives
his speech, the white men reward him with a briefcase holding a scholarship
inside. That night, IM has a nightmare which suggests that the scholarship
paper actually reads “To whom it may concern…Keep this nigger-boy running.”
This dream follows him throughout his journey.
later, IM attends the college and works as a chauffeur for some high men at the
establishment. While driving Mr. Norton, a wealthy, white trustee, they come
across the home of Jim Trueblood, a poor black man who raped his own daughter.
Mr. Norton hears Trueblood’s story and becomes very distraught, resulting in
the need of a drink. IM takes him to a worn down bar, usually filled with black
men and women of the night. Norton passes out after chaos breaks out. A veteran
doctor helps him while simultaneously mocking IM for buying into the white
they return to the college, the president, Dr. Bledsoe, reprimanded IM for the
trip he took the Trustee on. He expels the narrator and gives him the
“opportunity” to go New York and find a job. He gives the narrator seven
letters of to add to his briefcase, but tells him not to open them. This
becomes yet another thing to remain on his conscious.
travels through New York in search of a job, but has no luck. The letters
aren’t working so he decides to go see one of the trustees addressed on the
letters. He informs IM that he has fallen into a trap. The letters actually
describe him as an untrustworthy, unreliable young man.
realizing his time of foolishness, he uses Mr. Emerson’s name to get a job at
Liberty Paints. This job doesn’t go well for him, because he worked like a
guinea pig. He did not progress at all and didn’t have a source of income. This
job kept IM from realizing and reaching his true dreams. He gets in a fight
with one of the workers, which results in him waking in the hospital. The
doctors used this time to conduct experiments on IM. When he leaves the
hospital, he later collapses on the sidewalk and some passing community members
take him to the House of Mary Later
IM sees an old black couple being evicted, becomes enraged, and gives a
powerful speech. The leader of an organization that fights to help the
oppressed, The Brotherhood, overheard his speech and invited him to be their
spokesman. Eventually IM agrees in order to pay back Mary.
went to join a branch go the group in Harlem. There he met Tod Clifton, a youth
leader, and comes across Ras The
a man who does not believe in the Brotherhood’s actions. He believes that
blacks should fight for themselves
the white men.
later gives a speech that evokes negative emotion out of the Brotherhood. A
letter comes to him that reminds him to “remember his place”. The
group investigates his intentions in the group, so he is moved to another
branch where he focuses on the rights of women. A white woman approaches him
after one of his speeches and intends to seduce him and create her disturbing
sexual fantasies with a black man.
eventually gets sent back to Harlem but many things have changed, and many
people have left. The community no longer believes in the groups efforts. IM
stumbles upon Clifton who is selling “Sambo” dolls, which offensively
allude to slaves. This leads to an altercation with the police, and results in
Clifton being shot and killed. IM holds a public funeral for him and gives a
speech on his behalf where he highlight the positive aspects of his life. He
portrays him as a hero. The brotherhood becomes infuriated and sends him away
arrives back in Harlem furious and is planning to get revenge. He finds the
community erupted in chaos, over social issues. Ras The Exhorter confronts him
and has some men beat him up. IM then disguises himself and creates a
“new” identity. People confuse him with someone named Rinehart, who
has many contradicting sides to him.
goes to visit Brother Hambro, who tells him The Brotherhood gave up on Harlem
and black rights movement. IM decides to listen to some past advice from his
Grandpa and undermine the group, while seemingly acting as if he is helping
them. He meets the wife of a high Brotherhood member, and he seduces her in
hopes that she will give him some inside information.
woman, Sybil, has no information, so instead she takes this time to fulfill a
sexual rape fantasy with IM. During this time, IM gets a call and is told to
come to Harlem. When he gets there, the town is erupted in chaos, and the chaos
is being caused by Ras. Ras orders some men to have IM killed, so he runs. He
bumps into some policemen who thinks he as stolen items from the crime scene.
He falls down a manhole to escape the arrest, and the police cover up the hole.
has stayed in that hole ever since, but finally feels like he can emerge. He
accepts himself and his true identity, and he no longer feels the need to stay
hidden, or invisible.