The Motifs Of Blindness In Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man

Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man contains a variety of motifs throughout the novel, however none are more prevalent than the motif of blindness. Blindness is seen through a variety of mediums throughout the novel and represents how people will willingly avoid seeing the truth. Whether that truth is about the racial prejudice they receive or the truth of one 's self and community, blindness is apparent almost everywhere the narrator goes. One of the first instances of blindness in the novel is when the narrator is recounting the time in which he was meant to share his graduation speech with the prominent white men of his community, only to get there and be forced to participate in a blindfolded battle royal against his black classmates. Being blindfolded represents the narrators, as well as the other classmates, inability to recognize that they are being exploited by the white men. There was no reason for the black males to be blindfolded, it was done simply because the white men would find it to be more entertaining and serve as a way to make the black males powerless. The narrator views the fight as a necessity to be able to deliver his speech, and fails to realize the way the white men are treating him and how he was being used purely as entertainment. At …show more content…
The speech deeply moves and inspires the narrator and he once again is devoted to the college. Reverend Barbee, though, is a blind man who idealizes the Founder’s journey and makes it an example that others should also follow. His vision of the Founder is romanticized and his blindness calls into question the legitimacy of his speech. Barbee’s blindness is a physical embodiment of the Founder’s ideology and how he has followed that ideology blindly. Barbee is blind to the idea that the Founder’s journey will not bring success to everyone who also follows it without

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