As the Invisible Man becomes more deeply involved with the Brotherhood and develops into a public figure, he isolates himself more and more from his private life. The narrator begins to conceptualize himself as having two conflicting selves, writing, “…there were two of me: the old self that slept a few hours a night and dreamed sometimes of my grandfather, and Bledsoe and Brockway and Mary, the self that flew without wings and plunged from great heights; and the new public self that spoke for the Brotherhood and was becoming so much more important than the other that I seemed to run a foot race against myself” (380). As the Invisible Man continues to work for the Brotherhood, he becomes further estranged from his private life and seems to search fruitlessly for a sense of belonging in his relationships with members of the Brotherhood. He seems eager to please them and projects relationships from his personal life onto them. When he receives the warning letter at the beginning of Chapter 18, he demands assurance that he is well-liked from Brother Tarp, and in the moments before doing so is shocked to find that he sees his grandfather in Brother Tarp’s eyes (384). He also searches for romantic and sexual fulfillment through his work with the Brotherhood, sleeping with a white woman who describes “emotional security” as one of the appeals of the Brotherhood. He even seems to view his continuing attachment to Mary as an obstacle to his work. When he “accidentally” finds himself walking towards her door, he breaks out in a sweat and hurries away, acting ashamed (427). This competition between the narrator’s two selves is an interesting aspect of the Invisible Man’s quest to know who he is.
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