Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Invisible Man

A black boy starts out with idealistic views of society, but finds himself beat down by society. Both blacks and whites accept the status quo of society. He gets a scholarship to a black college, but finds himself in big trouble when he takes a white trustee to see how the "other side" lives. The trustee claims that the boy is his "destiny", but is visibly upset at seeing the continued conditions of squalor in the black community. He still maintains his idealism as he is sent to make his way in the big city. However this is shattered when he discovers that his letters of introduction say that he is a persona non grata at his college.

He then has numerous experiences in the city, and becomes primarily involved with "the brotherhood". Eventually, he even has a falling out there, and becomes "invisible". Eventually, he meets the trustee that caused his trouble. He introduces himself as the trustee's "destiny", yet the trustee fails to identify him.

He realizes that he is being used as a pawn by others to achieve their goals. When his goals are in sync with their's, he feels great. But problems occur when they start to diverge.

There is an obvious statement being made of race relations and unfulfilled promises. However, this is only one symptom of the underlying problem. In a large society, the "goals" of the group are often set by a few strong individuals. These goals may be shared by some people, but rarely does one person share everything. When the initial focus is on the areas of strong mutual agreement, things go well. But what happens when we move down to the areas of less consensus? And what happens when "theory" and "practice" come in to conflict? It is easy to encourage others to "suffer" in order to bring up the underprivileged. But opinions change when that suffering is inflicted upon oneself. What is one without power to do? And how do you deal with conflicting forces for the same "ideal"?

Alas, the narrator here simply gives up, leaving many of the large questions unanswered.

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