In a sense, it has been difficult to keep previous chapters of this book in mind as we read each new chapter, since so much happens in each chapter and the status and situation of the narrator change so much. However, Ellison reminds both us and the Invisible Man of what he has brought with him from his past: “And in a corner, my brief case, covered with specks of dust like memories—the night of the battle royal” (527). For the narrator and for us, it has “unexpected weight” (527). In one sense, the brief case is a shield against bird excrement “falling like rain” (534). Other characters later assume it holds something precious, like diamonds, and upon nearly losing it, the Invisible Man feels “as though something infinitely precious had almost been lost to me” (537). He uses it to defend his life (560) and feels “a wave of shame and outrage” (656) when people ask him about its contents. The overall picture is one of conflicted emotions. When burning his high school diploma and letters, the light it provides offers hope—but anger extinguishes that “feeble light” (658). The back-and-forth, give-and-take of personal history weighs on him as it continues to promise and promise and fails to deliver. Rather than learn to accept his history, as we might expect from a coming-of-age, only after leaving it behind can he even begin to think that he might be able to create a better place in society for himself than what his past dictates.