Invisible Man And Glaring Blindness
Blindness is a very interesting and important theme to Ellison’s Invisible

Man. Oftentimes throughout the novel the Narrator is blinded and is unable to
see the events, which are happening to him. The Narrator is a black man who
thinks of himself as invisible to the rest of the world. Many times the Narrator
is given hints and clues on how to better himself, but his own blindness
prevents him from being a visible member of society. His own blindness prevents
him from being nothing more than a silhouette of a person to not only himself,
but the rest of the world as well. The Narrator is first blinded when he is
supposed to participate in the "battle royal." This battle is a contest
where many Negro boys were blindfolded in a ring and were supposed to fight for
the white men who were watching. The Narrator is blindfolded and is supposed to
fight, "But now I felt a sudden fit of blind terror. I was unused to darkness.

It was as though I had suddenly found myself in a dark room filled with
poisonous cottonmouths" (21). The Narrator is blinded and he is very scared of
what is going to happen to him. Many times in situation, the Narrator is given
hints on how to survive and better himself, and this is no different. When he is
fighting, he notices that he is able to see the other fighters through his
blindfold, "I finally discovered that I could see the black, sweat-washed
forms weaving in the smoky-blue atmosphere like drunken dancers weaving to the
rapid drumlike thuds of blows" (23). He uses this to his advantage for a
while, but ends up having to go one on one against the biggest boy. Instead of
taking full advantage of the situation and leaving the ring like the others, he
gets beaten up badly by the winner of the "battle royal." The Narrator then
goes to further his education by going off to college. When he goes to college,
he runs into the statue of the founder of the college. The bronze statue is of
the founder taking off a veil of a young Negro boy. The Narrator does not see
the statue in the same way, "and I am standing puzzled, unable to decide
whether the veil is really being lifted, or lowered more firmly in place;
whether I am witnessing a revelation or a more efficient blinding" (36). Event
though the Narrator is in college and he is trying to become a more educated man
who can possibly do something in the world, he is unable to see that the college
might actually be helping the young Negroes. Instead he thinks that they are
still continuing to push him down. After he gets expelled from college, he runs
into an old vet on a bus ride up to New York. The old vet can see that the

Narrator is blinded and is not looking clearly at the world, so he tells him,

"Come out of the fog, young man. And remember you don’t have to be a
complete fool in order to succeed" (153). This advice is very similar to the
advice in which is grandfather gave to him. They are both telling him to step
out into the world and begin looking at it clearly. They are also telling him to
get along with the world; you do not have to necessarily like what you are
doing, but go with the flow if you want to survive. The Narrator finally gets a
job working for the Liberty Paint Company. In Chapter Eleven, we see much irony
as a reader. The Paint Company is known for making the whitest and best paint of
anyone. It is interesting how the Narrator can notice a gray tint to the paint,
which is supposed to be the purest of all. So pure that it is going to be used
on government buildings. This is a good example of how the white men look at the
world as being very pure and white, but instead it is becoming filled with more
and more Negroes, which make they white tinted with gray. While working in the
basement, the Narrator has an accident. He gets into a fight with his boss and
forgets to watch the gauged like he is supposed to be doing. The explosion
covers him and blinds him with white paint, "into a wet blast of black
emptiness that was somehow a bath of