By Ralph Ellison
In the first section of the Invisible Man, readers first see Jack-the Bear’s current impression of himself as unseen in the world, completely unnoticed and able to live passively in a secluded basement in New York. Jack recounts memories of his past in which he did not yet understand that he was invisible. He is all the while haunted by his grandfather 's memory in which he tells his loved ones as he dies to win the war of race relations by killing the whites with kindness and playing to their system. The narrator explains what it was like to be used as entertainment in the battle royal, and how honored and excited he felt to have the opportunity to go to college. At the college, the …show more content…
“Perhaps I like Louis Armstrong because he 's made poetry out of being invisible. I think it must be because he 's unaware that he is invisible.”
The allusion to Louis Armstrong sets up the relation to art and music that the story is going to have. Armstrong’s music is known for being colorful and expressing the feelings shared by many African Americans living in the discriminatory conditions of Harlem. The art is very much alive, and is attention grabbing, yet the Narrator still insists that he is invisible. The allusion ultimately relates all African Americans to invisibility while also showing how art and expression are going to be a big part of the theme.
“Then in my mind 's eye I see the bronze statue of the college Founder, the cold Father symbol, his hands outstretched in the breathtaking gesture of lifting a veil that flutters in hard, metallic folds above the face of a kneeling slave; and I am standing puzzled, unable to decide whether the veil is really being lifted, or lowered more firmly in place; whether I am witnessing a revelation or a more efficient …show more content…
“They were all such a part of that other life that 's dead that I can 't remember them all. (Time was as I was, but neither that time nor that "I" are any more.)”
This is another really important place where the author uses metaphor to show how Jack the Bear has changed throughout his life and taken on a completely different identity. He no longer feels capable in the world, but passive, and these memories of living in the white system of suppression are simply no longer who this invisible man is.
“Self-reliance is a most worthy virtue.”
Mr. Norton encourages Jack to read and study the works of transcendentalist writer,
Emerson. The allusion contributes to the theme of identity in the book, and it is also pretty ironic, considering that Mr. Norton himself plans to find his own destiny in others (the black people he thinks he holds such a heavy influence over). It is also ironic and very important because the
African Americans of this college and at this time are being fed the lies that they are working to improve themselves and become individuals through their white helpers, but in actuality, they are just becoming further enslaved to white institutions of