The Theme Of Blindness In Thomas Foster's Invisible Man

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In literature, blindness is often used to symbolize something more than just a lack of ability to see. There is often a deeper meaning to the disability, as defined in How to Read Literature Like a Professor’s 22nd chapter, “He’s Blind for a Reason, You Know” (Foster 209-214), where Thomas Foster explains the significance of a blind character in a work and how literal blindness often means wisdom for a good-spirited character and something of the opposite for their heel counterparts. In Invisible Man, blindness is used to identify a lack of insight and social consciousness in both the Narrator and other characters such as Brother Jack, the founder of the college, and Reverend Homer; this blindness is identified by invisibility, blindfolds, …show more content…
As the Narrator along with a group of other African American men are stripped naked, blindfolded, and left to fight until only one man is left standing. The blindfolded men were seemingly unaware that they were personifying the stereotypes the whites watching them were begging for them to (Thomas). Each fighter is unknowingly doing exactly what they are expected to do as black men: be violent and be entertaining. The narrator later mentions his grandfather’s regretting that he did not do more to fight for equality and to earn the respect of the whites in his day. The battle royal’s participants suffer a similar fate as they are subjected to humiliation and left to fight one another without even being able to look one another in the eyes, the former a metaphor to the blindness the fighters have to their own oppression by a still very racist America. The Narrator’s recalling of his grandfather’s confession to and acceptance of failure is parallel with each of the ten men in the battle royal who was blinded by their need to survive by any means necessary, including giving in to what their oppressors all but force them to participate in. The Narrator tries to reason with one of his fellow fighters at one point as he asks Tatlock, the only other man left standing about his reasoning for wanting to win the fight (Ellison …show more content…
Often pushed aside to take note of the meaning behind invisibility, blindness is sometimes not spoken of despite being such a key part of why the Narrator becomes an invisible man; more so, it is the building blocks for all commentary done on invisibility (Lee). “The invisible man’s naiveté makes him ignore the truth” (Sheokand). This quote from Anu Sheokand’s criticism is a vital one, commenting on the fact that the Narrator is so prepared to believe anything that he ultimately fails to believe the truth when it is placed in front of him because he has already been blinded by the Brotherhood’s beliefs. He recognizes that his hopeless and blind acceptance of the Brotherhood’s ideals has consumed him and forced him away from his own needs (Sheokand). Nearly every character in Ellison’s Invisible Man represents some form of blindness, each showing a racially charged moral conflict between wrong, right, and whether or not the character in question is concerned with the ethics of their decisions to begin with. Invisibility is not always the fault of the person or object in question, but instead can be due to a lack of sight and therefore lack of insight to what is right in front of the person. Invisible Man’s nameless anti-hero tells the story of the broken city of Harlem and all of its blind characters, both literally and

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