The prologue is essential, laying down a foundation that allows us to understand the meaning and reason behind the symbolism and relevance of events the that follow. The narrator notes that most of his action now is done softly, to not awaken the sleeping. He confesses that he has come to accept his position in the hole. Nevertheless, if the blond man had called a police officer, the narrator would have been blamed for the incident. The distance between the body of the novel and the framing chapters allows the narrator to comment on his story as if he has had the time to reflect and ponder the significance of the events he relates. I am invisible, understand simply because people refuse to see me. It is a story of his early innocence, his eventual disillusionment, and his recent revelation about his own identity.
This enables Ellison to make the point of his essay stronger. Appearing at the beginning and the end, the grandfather provides a lesson to the young narrator which his parents then tell him to ignore. Though he may have been lost in a dream world of sleepwalkers, the blond man ultimately controlled the dream. Finally, the narrator says that he is ready to end his hibernation, and that he will soon come up to the surface for breath. The narrator reveals that for him the act of writing is an exercise in affirmation.
The narrator attempts to grab as many coins as possible without touching the carpet and does so, almost throwing a seated white man onto the carpet by holding onto his chair leg. He has also achieved a clarity of vision that enables him to see things from a different perspective. He took a sick leave as the War wound down in 1945 and moved with his wife to recuperate in Vermont. Racist attitudes cause others to view him in terms of racial stereotypes—as a mugger, bumpkin, or savage. The narrator thus avoids classification because he exists between it and outside of it, similar to his heightened ability to experience the time and space inside of music. Next, the narrator explains his need for sound. Moreover, while stealing was once his original goal, he finds that now he needs the lighting to confirm his existence to himself.
The Prologue also helps to place the novel within larger literary and philosophical contexts. The man had rudely knocked him down. Concerning his reasons for writing down his story, the narrator realizes that the process of writing helped him work through the pain, diffuse the hate, and regain his capacity to love. The Prologue and the Epilogue frame the events of the novel, but both take place sometime after the events of the main novel. The Cultural Contexts for Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man claims that the novel envisions nothing less than undoing African Americans' cultural dispossession. With the author's intentions consciously in mind, the reader then has an easier time recognizing the weighted symbolic images involved within the chapter. Before the narrator can continue, Mr.
What follows is a drug-induced summary of his significant life experiences, the basis for all the chapters to follow. In 1943, he was hired to cover a riot in Harlem. He explains that to feel formless, to be invisible to one's self, is to feel dead. Although he considered his invisibility a disadvantage, he points out that it has become an asset. It received favorable reviews by both white and black audiences, although it was also met with some negative reviews.
He points out there is no one to whom he can be responsible. Norton gives him a hundred dollar bill and he and the narrator leave with Norton asking the narrator to find him some whiskey as he is feeling ill. Covered in darkness, voices from the smoky room yell jeers and taunts to the boys until they are incited to fight. Many times in this section and throughout the novel, the Invisible Man will speak of spring and coming out of the hole. After telling Norton about the inhabitants, Norton demands to speak with Trueblood.
She shares her story with the narrator, claiming that she loved her slave master for being the father of her sons, but she hated him, too. The grandfather is a device used by Ellison to foreshadow heavily the rest of the novel as well as enhance the illustrations presented during the chapter. The prologue allows us to understand the extent and level of intensity the novel is trying to achieve. However, Norton is not the type of character who would be the most knowledgeable on how the narrator should spend his life and the reader is not surprised to learn that he cares about the narrator's destiny because he claims it as his own. The narrator finds himself pulling off the highway onto an unknown road while Norton speaks about his interest in the school and its students. They do not accept his reality and thus live as though they do not see him. Having had time to reflect on his life, he has decided that reality exists in the mind.
The narrator elaborates on his invisibility. He states that because of his skin color he is only looked down upon, if he is ever noticed at all. His hole represents imprisonment, for the narrator feels he is held prisoner by his lack of identity and by the society that refuses to see him. Trueblood leaves but decides to return and take responsibility for his actions. He explains that when he smokes a reefer one day, the music takes on a new meaning and he sees into the spaces between time. Dante allusion to Dante Alighieri, author of The Divine Comedy, a classic work that traces the soul's journey through the underworld towards divine enlightenment.
Enraged, the narrator attacks him, head-butting him and demanding that he apologize. In his crucial concept of invisibility, Ellison is likely drawing from W. He suggests that even though he speaks on his own behalf, perhaps on some level, he speaks for each of us. Norton continues to speak of his fate and asks the narrator to contact him once he knows of his own. On a larger scale, the car is also a metaphorical vehicle through which the narrator hopes to move closer to the college's heritage but which inevitably brings him further toward disaster as he tries to please the college's leaders and benefactors. Being invisible sometimes makes him doubt whether he really exists.