|Teagle Bougere, Court Theatre, Chicago|
On the Epilogue:
Epilogue - he’s learned to think for himself
Epilogue didn’t have the depth and the imagery of the prologue
The reader was supposed to resolve it for himself
It wasn’t supposed to be resolved
The lower frequencies are humanity - his and ours
Invisible Man can’t really internalize his grandfather’s words until the end
The last pages were difficult - there’s nothing happening - difficult to focus
There were a lot of digressions - you needed to find the narrative thread
He came to the realization that you can’t stay in hibernation forever
Louis Armstrong wouldn’t throw the bad air out - because that’s what makes the music
Last page: “...it is this which frightens me: Who knows but that… why is he frightened? It’s a possible burden to advocate for others, and knowledge is frightening
Epilogue is anti-climactic
Did he write the epilogue before writing the middle?
The ending is unsatisfying - you know the ending is coming, but as he gets more involved in the world, the contrast is very strange
On Women in Invisible Man:
Ellison’s feelings about women remind me of the movie Crash - a lot of misconceptions, a lot of complicated motives - the portrayals are not simple
Does Sybil have to be intoxicated to get Invisible Man to compromise his integrity? The intoxication is important
Sybil and her request - it’s making stereotypes / myths of both white women and black men
Do the women need to be in the story? Are there any fully rounded women in the novel? Even Mary is a stereotype, albeit a positive one
He started out trying to use Sybil, but she ultimately tries to use him
I don’t think he sees women as being actual people
Sybil - the character - she’s like a prophetess
On Invisible Man's future:
When he leaves the underground, will he really change? He might think he’s learned from mistakes, but maybe not
Exchange of “I’m your destiny” with Mr. Norton - does it imply that they are one another’s destiny?
Is it an optimistic ending?
Can Invisible Man use his invisibility for good?
When he emerges, I don’t think he will be as gullible - he’ll be more skeptical
Castration as acquiring knowledge - maybe ignorance was paradise
On the Brotherhood:
There are engines within engines - he finally sees that the Brotherhood doesn’t care about Harlem
Rinehart was running a scam - but everybody: Bledsoe, Brotherhood, they are running scams too
The Brotherhood pretended that it didn’t see color, gender - but you have to honor differences - a melting pot versus a salad bowl
Jack and the glass eye - a symbol of blindness - red hair - Communism
Parallel with David Copperfield: IM started innocent, then became disillusioned
Other thoughts, images, questions:
Ras on the horse - biblical - 4 horsemen
Being underground is hibernation
The sickness was both outside and inside me
Ellison - as a younger writer he covered a Harlem riot in the 1940s
Position of literature in a chaotic American landscape - a lot of people are reading comics - where does the novel fit in?
P 441 - the nuns on the subway (underground) - one is all in black, other all in white (with bare black feet) - rhyme - your cross ain’t nearly so heavy as mine - a competition of suffering
passage above - he is beginning to see the way race makes all of us messed up
The thought in this book is post- Christian
The artist is a special person who might be able to help us in this world where God is gone
The reader experiences everything without always understanding what it means
You forget that this all takes place over a short period of time - in fact, he’s still very young, a kid really
I thought we would see more of the book’s earlier characters at the end - only Mr Norton, but IM is still invisible to Mr Norton
Rinehart - kind of like Superman, with glasses he’s Clark Kent
None of our group understands what happened to Tod Clifton - why was he transformed - did he go mad?
Odors and smells -the epilogue talks about bad air and good air - Was Ellison a sensitive person?
What about the violence -it’s building up, then he falls in the hole
Rinehart - a natural character for the times and context - a numbers runner was an important figure in that era
The novel reads like an action movie - very cinematic
Clifton’s doll doesn’t burn easily - does this have significance? You can’t kill Clifton, or you can’t kill racism? It’s slow to change, slow to burn
Important line, p. 452: “Could politics ever be an expression of love?”