Naivety and Failure

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Not only has Ellison successfully created a character who, for most of the novel, remains invisible, but he has given his audience a character who never takes on any real dynamic form. Though the narrator seems to grow and become worldlier, he remains static in that he never develops any sense of self. He adopts the beliefs and values of those around him as easily as one would adopt a dialect or speech pattern. He just as easily loses these beliefs when he is no longer surrounded by their support and ideals. While he is under the influence of Dr. Bledsoe, he follows blindly becoming a young man who believes himself to be subservient to white people. His goals for himself are not great despite his obvious talent for academics and speaking. He does not question the motives or teachings of the brotherhood, but follows naively and willingly. Finally, when the narrator becomes part of the gang that burns their building to the ground, he simply plays along not asking questions. Even as he watches the men force women and children into the street, he claims "It didn't occur to me to interfere, or to question...They had a plan" (Ellison 534). A plan seems to be all that is really needed to convince our narrator that the action being taken is the right thing, the best thing. Dr. Bledsoe had a plan, the brotherhood had a plan, and the street gang had a plan; he followed all without question. This blind acceptance of others' ideals contributes greatly to his downfall. From a promising student to a black rights figure to a man living alone underground, the narrator's journey was one of failure.

http://jerz.setonhill.edu/EL267/2009/04/ellison_the_invisible_man_1/ 

 

 

3 Comments

Aja Hannah said:

I feel that by the end or rather in the prolouge, the narrator has developed a sense of self. He also seems to be by himself. I am not really sure what this self is, but he isn't following other people's plans anymore.

I also believe that he does do something that he believes in. When he gives the speech, as Rosalind says in her blog the narrator feels like he believes in what he has said and isn't just going along with the Brotherhood. His speech giving seems active, although he does not really take his own advice.

April Minerd said:

I found the Invisible Man's "blind acceptance" a very frustrating aspect of the novel. His ignorance is understandable initially, but the pattern just keeps repeating. Yes circumstances are limiting for the narrator, still the truth of things is within his reach the entirety of the story and he always reasons around it, until the very end. He failed at everything but discovering himself.

Nikita McClellan said:

i actually mention in my blog for Hanlon's article about the marrator only following those around him. He only does what he is told for the most part. It is unfortunate that it had to take him being isolated from everyone for him to actually follow his own lead. And even that just seems to me like a last resort for him. Yes he did dicover himself for once, but it was only after there was no one to take his will power away. He was always looking toward others for advise instead of look to hiself.

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Nikita McClellan on Naivety and Failure: i actually mention in my blog
April Minerd on Naivety and Failure: I found the Invisible Man's "b
Aja Hannah on Naivety and Failure: I feel that by the end or rath