One obvious theme that I picked up when I read Invisible Man was the theme of invisibility. I think the theme of invisibility has different meanings to it. One meaning is that invisibility suggests the unwillingness of others to see the individual as a person. The narrator is invisible because people see in him only what they want to see, not what he really is. Invisibility, in this meaning, has a strong sense of racial prejudice. White people often do not see black people as individual human beings. Another meaning of the theme of invisibility is the idea that it suggests separation from society.
While the narrator is in his hole, he is invisible. He cannot be seen by society. He is invisible because he chooses to remain apart. Invisibility, in this meaning, is similar to hibernation, with the narrators choice to remain in his cave and think. This meaning of the theme doesnt relate to me, but in a way, relates to the poet, Emily Dickinson, who wrote, The Wind Tapped Like a Tired Man. Dickinson withdrew from the world in her early twenties and became a recluse. Its like Emily chose to be isolated from the rest of the world, just like the narrator in Invisible Man did.
The third meaning is that invisibility indicates lack of self-hood. A person is invisible if he has no self, no identity. If a person doesnt have a soul, spirit, personality, etc. , then they seem like a ghost, a thing who is cold and invisible. Invisible Man may be read as a story about the narrators development. It is a first-person narrative, and because you experience the novel through the narrator, you get to know him better than anyone else. One pattern of development is that of innocence to experience. At first, the narrator is extremely innocent and does not understand what is happening to him.
He does not believe people are bad. He does not see that Bledsoe is making a fool of him. As he suffers, he learns. With experience, he begins to see the world more as it really is. Experience teaches him to be a better judge. This relates to me, because experience is a major importance in my life. Four years ago, when I first started forensics, I was innocent or inexperienced. But as I started experiencing new techniques of how to present the speech, I learned more and, therefore becoming a better judge. A lot of blind and half-blind people and animals are shown throughout Invisible Man.
For example, Brother Jack, the leader of the Brotherhood, has a glass eye, and throughout his first speech for the Brotherhood in Chapter 16, the narrator refers to black people as one-eyed mice. There is an allusion here to Three Blind Mice. The idea is that black people start life with only one eye, because of their racial situation, and that white people would just as soon have them lose the other eye in fighting one another. Then, the whites blindfold the black boys during the battle royal in the first chapter, so that they strike out blindly at each other.
These are just some examples of the imagery of sight and blindness that I found in the novel. Sight is similar to perception or knowledge. Blindness is similar to the lack of these things, with ignorance and stupidity. The imagery of sight and blindness is closely tied to the theme of invisibility that I talked about in the first entry. People are invisible because others do not see them. If you dont see someone, you are blind. Though the narrator can see physically, he is perceptually blind. So there is not always a direct similarity between physical blindness and figurative blindness.