Throughout the reading for today’s class, I was struck by the number of times in which the Invisible Man recognizes his own shifting values and ideas. Following the revelation that Clifton has gone missing, the Invisible Man comments that it “was as though” he “had been suddenly awakened from a deep sleep” (422). This newly realized state is echoed later on, as the protagonist mentions that he feels as if he’s “been asleep, dreaming” (444), unaware of the impact that his involvement in the Brotherhood and Harlem would have. These particular moments of character revelation are strange, mainly because a future Invisible Man, and likely a much different character than the current one, is narrating the story. In this way, the reader is forced to juggle a variety of different invisible men, beginning with the “completed version” of the prologue and then transitioning with him from college to New York City to the Brotherhood, etc. I’m interested in how this complicated method of unfolding used by Ellison impacts the relationship between reader and character, if at all. In addition, I think it’s interesting to consider the factors that cause these character changes, as the majority seem to be external factors (like leaving college, joining the Brotherhood) that incite internal revelations.
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