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Blindness in Invisible Man

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Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man was published in 1952. Since that time, the work has been the subject of many literary critics, and the Blindness in Invisible Man of much literary debate. According to Ellison, the book is about “the human universals hidden within the plight of one…both black and American”. Ellison’s Invisible Man is rich with themes, hidden meanings and racial undertones. One of the most noticeable themes in Invisible Man is that of blindness. This blindness is seen in a variety of ways, but stands out in Chapter Twenty-two when it is revealed that Jack has a glass eye.

Blindness in Invisible Man

When Jack first appears in the novel he is depicted as the leader of the Brotherhood. This in itself is strangely odd given that the mission of the Brotherhood is to promote black issues, a place where Jack with his red hair seems oddly out of place. When the reader first encounters Jack in the story, he appears to be kind, intelligent and compassionate. He is a source of great help to the narrator when the two first meet. He gives the narrator money, a job, and a method for helping him fight against prejudice.

Upon further reading however, the reader soon learns that Jack is not all he pretends to be. The narrator soon learns that he is just as invisible to Jack as he is to everyone else. To Jack, the narrator is not a real, live breathing individual, but a vehicle to advance the goals of the Brotherhood. As the story progresses the narrator becomes aware that Jack is just as blind and prejudiced as everyone else. This knowledge is confirmed when Jack abandons the Brotherhood and the goals of the black community without looking back.

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