The setting of “Invisible Man” takes place during the 1930’s. The narrator was born and raised in Southern United States otherwise known as the American South.
As he grows up, he moves to a nearby College for African Americans. At his time at the college, the narrator made a mistake causing him to be expelled. After, he moves to the New York City neighborhood of Harlem.
The setting of Harlem is important to the story because Harlem is a major center of African American culture, and considering the narrator is African American himself, it affects him in many ways such as how he is defined.The narrator introduces himself as invisible man. He explains that he calls himself this because people only see him of his skin. As he continues on with his story, he talks about his journey in recognizing his invisibility. He goes back and begins to talk about the beginning of his journey.
During his third year of college, the narrator is given the duty to chauffeur a wealthy white man named Mr. Norton. The narrator makes a mistake of bringing Mr. Norton to places that were not to be seen and had himself expelled from the school. Looking for a way to get money, the narrator takes a job at Liberty Paints. He is moved from his first job and is relocated to the boiler room to work with Lucius Brockway. Brockway soon attacks the narrator after learning that he accidentally attended a union meeting.
The narrator develop a passion for public speaking, and beacuse of this, the was able to become a member of Brotherhood. He quickly rises and becomes leader because of the powerful speeches that he delivers. Accusations of him using the Brotherhood for his own purposes caused his removal of the organization.
The narrator finds out racist Sambo dolls were being sold by Clifton to amuse white tourists. Police arrive and shot Clifton during the fight, and Clifton’s funeral was arranged by the narrator. Overtime, the narrator realized that the Brotherhood had been manipulating him and was determined to get his revenge and destroy the organization. A riot broke out and the narrator runs into a man named Ras.
As he was running away from Ras and the police, the narrator finds a manhole and hides in it, where he remains in hibernation for the next few years.The point of view is written of first person through the narrator. By doing this, he speaks about his individual experiences of being African American. He talks about how he feels about events that have happened such as portraying himself in ways of being invisible to the outside world because he is black. As we progress in the book, we explore the narrator’s passage into the society and how it treats him as a black man. The main character and protagonist of this novel is the narrator, who is an unnamed black man.
For a part of the story he is a young college student. As a young man, he was naive, but other than that, the narrator was gifted in language, smart, quick witted, and introverted. When speaking, he is very charismatic as well as introspective when thinking. There are 4 antagonists. Ras the Exhorter, Dr.Bledsoe, Mr. Norton, and Brother Jack.
Ras the Exhorter is a black separatist. He disapproves whites in every way and objects any contact with the white community. Dr. Bledsoe is the Negro College president.
He is a black man who doesn’t care for much of his race and manipulates rich white men only to get their money for his college. Mr. Norton is a very rich white man.
Although he gives money to black college students, he is shown to think of himself as being more powerful or important than others. Brother Jack is a glass eye wearing white man, who is leader of the Brotherhood. He is a racist manipulator that uses the narrator and race for his own purposes.
An important secondary character is Trueblood. Trueblood is a black sharecropper who has been rejected by the black community for a sin he committed. The sin was impregnating his own daughter. However, his sin is rewarded by the white community.
Three symbols in this novel are Trueblood, Brother Tarp’s chain links, and the Sambo doll. Trueblood represents the white community’s aspiration to keep the black society from improving. This is because even though Trueblood committed a horrible sin, the white rewarded him for it. The battered chain links of Brother Tarp represent the limit of physical freedom. It also symbolizes mental slavery of the black community. The Sambo doll symbolizes stereotype.
Stereotype is represented by the invisible strings that makes the doll move. It shows a person’s manipulative abilities that is capable of.The theme of the novel revolves around race. There is a major conflict between whites and blacks. Because many people would rather look at skin color, it leads to the invisibility of the race, such as what the narrator is facing. He is defined by his causing his invisibility throughout society. Some obstacles that the narrator encounters are due to his race. Because of these experiences, he sees the world from a new perspective.
Another theme is invisibility and identity. The narrator goes through a journey of searching for who he really is and what is his identity. Though you can’t choose the color of your skin, his blackness makes up a large part of who he is.
Throughout his life, he’s always been seen as an invisible man due to the color of his skin. He starts to realize this and decides to waste his time and emotions on other people. The narrator begins to embrace the color of his skin and his identity through it. I would recommend this book because it introduces many important themes in life and makes you think about society and how unfair the world can be. Also, the story proves that many things can be overcome.
This novel presents a great story of how a man grows up and overcomes his struggles in society, such as the pressure of society, racism, and learning to be yourself.