Indicators of power in society
In the novel Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison there are many indicators of power in a society. During the time period at which the novel takes place people are starting to realize that whites do not hold all the power in a society. African Americans are starting to gain control of their own lives, and starting to develop their own identity. There are many indicators of power, but the one that is present throughout the entire novel would be the ability to hope.
Hope is present in many ways in the novel. The narrator went through many struggles where he lost hope, gained it and in many times he gave hope to others. At the start of the novel the narrator is expelled from school, all his hope and power was lost when he learned this; Dr. Bledsoe told the narrator that he could attend the school again as long as he moved to New York and worked to pay off the next year tuition (Ellison 145).
This gave the narrator hope again. Once he gets a job in New York to obtain money for school he would have power again. Little does he how, Dr. Bledsoe gave the Narrator false hope and no power because instead of helping him find a job in New York he hindered him and warned the trustees not to hire him.
The first time the narrator gives hope to others through is words happened when white men are carrying out all the furniture of an elderly African American couple. Everyone was watching them do it but no one would stand up for the old couple, finally the narrator stepped in and stood up for the couple through a marvelous speech and persuaded the crowed to help carry the couple furniture back up to their apartment (Ellison 277-284).
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The Narrator gave the couple power through hope by giving them a voice they didn’t know they had. They couldn’t do anything the men that were throwing their stuff out into the open streets because they were week and powerless. The narrator stepped in and through the power of words restored the hope the elderly couple once had in themselves
A white man by the name Brother Jake heard the narrator speak on the behalf of the elderly couple and offered him a job to be a spokesperson for his political organization in Harlem. The narrator did not accept the job at first but then thought of Marry and how much she helped him when he had no hope or power so he decided to take the job to repay his debt to her. Through this job the narrator gave hope to the hopeless through his words and that gave him more power in the brotherhood. The more hope he gave others the more the other brothers looked up to and admired him. At first they gave him hope through giving him power. They took that away from him, when they made him leave Harlem. The brotherhood accused the narrator for being out for only self-gain an for the well binging of others.
The ability to hope is the most significant indicator of power in this noel. In Invisible Man the ability to hope helps people to gain power and when you lose hope your power is also lost. As we follow the narrator thought the entire novel he loses hope when he is expelled form school, gains when when he has hope of finding job to obtain money to go back to school, and finally gives hope to others in Harlem. When the narrator’s hope is taken away his power is also gone and he is ultimately left an invisible man.
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