An Invisible Meaning
"The next day i saw his picture in the Daily News, beneath a caption stating that he had been "mugged".Poor fool, poor blind fool, I thought with sincere compassion, mugged by an invisible man!"
-Invisible Man p. 8
While I read chapters 1-14 of Invisible Man, this passage in the prolouge stayed in my mind. Something about the whole situation bothered me, and after considering it for awhile, I think I came up with a conclusion about what Ellison was trying to say through this scene.
I think what struck me about this scene was the realness of it. The whole encounter seemed so violent - yet so real. The strong reaction the narrarator seems like an overreaction. It is portrayed, I feel, to seem like one. Yet, when you think about it again, maybe its not. Now I can never say I have been in that type of a situation before, but is it not human nature to react strongly when you feel as if you are being verbally attacked? It is not common for someone to just sit there and take it. Violence, as they say, is never the answer, but I can see how someone may become heated in that sort of situation (even if the force that he used was inappropriate).
But, I think that the real message is not necessarily in the violent beating and confrontation, but in the story the narrator said was written in the paper about the incident. He says that he feels bad for someone who was mugged by an invisible man. Mugging is not a light subject, and the man took a very painful beating. Yet, the article portrayed only one side of the situation. No one knew that the blond man had been vulgar and continued to provoke the "invisible man".
This shows that maybe the narrator really is invisible - at least to anyone who read the paper. After reading the article, people were able to make judgements about him - without even knowing who he was. In no way am I saying that he was completely justified in his actions, but maybe readers should consider the unfairness he had to deal with as well. Individuals are always quick to judge based on what they know, and only what they know. Often times people do not take the time to consider gathering all the facts before the judge. I think that this part of the book really foreshawdows other events I read in the book. I know that the prolouge reminded me to read without making rash judgements.