Sight and Blindness in "The Invisible Man" Essay example

2451 Words Jan 9th, 2006 10 Pages
Throughout the novel Invisible Man, Ralph Ellison works with many different images of blindness and impaired vision and how it relates to perception. These images prove to be fascinating pieces of symbolism that enhance the themes of impression and vision within the novel. From the beginning of the novel when the narrator is blindfolded during the battle royal to the end where Brother Jack's false eye pops out, images of sight and blindness add to the meaning of many scenes and characters. In many of these situations the characters inability to see outwardly often directly parallels their inability to perceive inwardly what is going on in the world around them. Characters like Homer A. Barbee and Brother Jack believe they are all knowing …show more content…
It should also be noted that the narrator never gives a name to the Founder or mentions Booker T. Washington. The author uses this to signify their invisibility in the real world. Related to the veiling Founder is a man who avows to the Founder's extraordinary principles and astonishing contributions to the black community. Homer A. Barbee speaks about the Founder to students at the college and makes his life sound like a verse out of the Bible. He speaks of how the Founder "miraculously recovered" (119) as a baby, his incredible journey through the Underground Railroad, and the seemingly magnificent message he spread to the people:
Ah, those days of ceaseless travel, those youthful days, those springtime days; fertile, blossomy, sun-filled days of promise. Ah, yes, those indescribably glorious days, in which the Founder was building the dream not only here in this then barren valley, but hither and yonder throughout the land, instilling the dream in the hearts of the people (124).
Barbee makes the Founder sound like Jesus leading a flock of sheep. Barbee's speech was so powerful and moving that he made the narrator "see the vision" (133), and only after Barbee was done speaking did the narrator realize that he was blind. This actual blindness is symbolic of Barbee praising a man that he sees fit, yet the Founder is not truly worthy of Barbee's praises. Barbee can only see the Founder through blind eyes, in which
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