Blind And Invisible

Invisible Man

After reading this book I wondered what it would be like to be blind then gain sight, but realize you cannot see yourself because you are invisible. It seems like a cruel joke that once you can see you realize that you still cannot see who you are. Even though this seems like a very depressing event Ellison makes it seem like a positive thing. While, at the end of the story, the narrator still does not know his place in the world he seems to be glad that he is no longer blindfolded. He even questions the reader\'s ability to see, "Who knows but that, on some lower frequencies, I speak for you?" What Ellison does well is the evolution of the narrator\'s blindness.
The blindness motif seems to first show up at the battle royal. The blindfold scares the narrator. He was not used to darkness, and it put him in a "blind terror." This is the first time that the narrator admits his blindness, but at the same time he also shows the blindness of others. All of the men in the battle royal are blindfolded. Is this symbolic of the African-American\'s plight in society? The whites have blindfolded them and they have no idea who they are fighting against. So they end up beating each other rather than the real people they should be fighting. I think Ellison goes even deeper than mere race relations in this scene. I think he is showing the plight of the individual in society. I think Ellison is saying that we fight blindly amongst ourselves, and it is not until we take off the blindfolds that we can band together and fight the real enemy. When the narrator finally is allowed to remove his blindfold he is so preoccupied with what he believes he is there for that he can not really focus on his fight with Tatlock. Again Ellison is commenting on the plight of the individual.
The narrator is also blind to Dr. Bledsoe\'s true nature. It is not until later in the story that he realizes that Bledsoe wears different masks in front of different people. The narrator cannot be completely held at fault here because others are also fooled by Bledsoe. Bledsoe also dupes Barbee. Ellison then lets the reader know that Barbee is physically blind. Why is that fact important? I believe that Ellison is saying that anyone who buys into Bledsoe or Bledsoe\'s way of thinking is also blind. There is a point in Barbee\'s speech where he is "turning toward Dr. Bledsoe as though he did not quite see him." But with the masks that Bledsoe wears whom really can see him? Now at this point the narrator is still blindfolded, and he seems to be moved by the speech and still have some faith in Bledsoe. I mean, he obviously trusts him with the letters. If he did not he would have opened them before he gave them to the prospective employers.
One of the first times the narrator removes a blindfold (I say a blindfold because he wears many) is when he eats the yams in the street. Yes this act gives him a sense of freedom, but it gives him an even greater realization. He believes that he can judge a good yam by merely looking at it. "You don\'t have to convince me...I can look at it and see it\'s good." He is making a blind assumption at this point, and on top of that he is doing the very thing that others do to him. He is making a judgment on something based on its outward appearance. When he eats the frostbitten yam he realizes that he cannot make a clear judgment on things based on that appearance only. This can even be brought back to his original assessment of Dr. Bledsoe.
The removal of the blindfolds help in the discovery of the narrator\'s own identity. However, when he joins the Brotherhood he is once again blinded. This is shown during the speeches in chapter sixteen. He is afraid that he will become someone else, and the spotlight then blinds him. The Brotherhood hinders his search for who he is. He is trying to