A look in the mirror
"I seemed aware of it all from a point deep within me, yet there was a disturbing vagueness about what I saw, a disturbing uniform quality, as when you see yourself in a photo exposed during adolescence; the expression empty, the grin without character, the ears too large, the pimples, 'courage bumps', too many and too well defined. This was a new phase...a new beginning..."
At this point in chapter 16, the narrator is describing his feelings as the Brotherhood members prepare to address the crowd at the rally. Ellison paints a marvelous picture with some youthful imagery: age brings maturity in multiple facets.
The narrator speaks of this feeling of slight uneasiness and compares it to the sensation that one might get from looking at an old photo from the years of puberty. Changes were under way, but now the narrator faces changes and transformations even more pivotal than those of physical development: his psychological standpoint is morphing into a new state.
Life is a matter of constant change. Ellison's narrator does an excellent job of portraying that introspective view of change. There is that look in the mirror in order to see how time has not only changed the face, but the workings that go on within the head that holds the face.