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The Narrator Vs. Mystique--I mean, Rinehart

"'Rinehart, baby, is that you?' she said.
Rinehart, I thought. It works."
--Invisible Man, page 483

This was a pretty interesting chapter--after all this expectation that the book is about an invisible man, the narrator actually does become invisible! Well, in a way. I found it really cool how Ellison throughout the novel doesn't ignore the rules of reality completely but twists and stretches them pretty significantly for symbolic purposes. Just like the questionable concept of adding dark paint to more dark paint to produce white, it seems like a pretty crazy coincidence that the narrator is able to look so much like this other person just by putting on sunglasses and a hat. Maybe he's not invisible so much as a shape-shifter, like Mystique in X-Men. Anyway, while this coincidence doesn't make a whole lot of literal sense, it sure works on a symbolic level. Rinehart represents the shifting nature of identity. He is able to be everything from a gambler to a priest, and the narrator's identity completely disappears behind the outward appearance. It really helps depict a society where outward appearances, be they skin color or clothes or the way you walk, are all that people perceive, even though there may be much more to the story. Hmm, I wonder if they had all this symbolic significance in mind when they created the Mystique character for X-Men. Maybe. By the way, I totally think this book would make a great origin story for a comic book series. Ras the Destroyer is an excellent idea for an arch-nemesis.

Comments (3)

Matt Henderson:

I forgot to mention this, but here's a passage where the narrator comments on the not-quite-realness of his world at Tod Clifton's funeral: "The blood ran like blood in a comic-book killing, on a comic-book street in a comic-book town on a comic-book day in a comic-book world."
Somebody really needs to start an Invisible Man comic book series, it would just be too cool.

Rebecca Marrie:

I completely agree with you! The narrator is most definitely a shape shifter Along with Mystique in X-Man, he can also be comparable to the Pokeman Ditto. He really does have no identity, he js basically whatever anyone wants him to be. Only in the prologue and the epilogue is the narrator termed "invisible." Throughout the rest of the novel, he is merely depicted as whatever people wanted him to be. I believe this is fully emphasized in the epilogue when he when the narrator states "So after years of trying to adopt the opinions of others I finally rebelled. I am an invisible man." .

Julianne Banda:

I really liked your blogs for this book. I agree that the narrator is more like a shapeshifter and I wrote something similar to this in my blog. I like how you made a connection to Mystique from X-Men because so many people know about the story and character that they can relate the two.

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