Invisible Man Part II
by Ralph Ellison
Before being expelled Dr. Beldsoe tries to make a deal with the narrator. He says if you can get a well paying job in New York, you can come back to the college(pg. 101). The narrator agrees to this, and Dr. Bledsoe gives him several letters of recommendation and sends him on his way. When the narrator gets to New York, the son of Mr. Emerson, one of the people Dr. Bledsoe wrote a letter to, tries to tell the narrator about the tyranny that he is being exploited by. But the narrator refuses to listen until he is shown the letter that Dr. Bledsoe wrote. He discovers that all the letters of recommendation are phony and that Dr. Bledsoe never actually intended for him to be able to re-enroll in the college. This realization finally causes the narrator to become at least partially disillusioned. Because of this, he decides to forget about the college and takes a job at a paint factory.
At the paint factory he begins working as an assistant to Lucius Brockway, an old black man that works the machines in the basement. Brockway explains to the narrator that it is the people who work the machines, and not the machines themselves that are responsible for the success of the company. He tells him, "We the machines inside the machine." The narrator, however, fails to grasp the broader meaning of this quote. Afterwards, Brockway tells the narrator that a union has been trying to get the employees higher wages and that if that happened the paint factory could go under. When Brockway discovers that the narrator went to a union meeting, he attacks the narrator. While they are fighting, the machinery goes haywire and when the narrator tries to fix it, it explodes, knocking him unconscious. The narrator wakes up in the factory hospital. At first he thinks they are going to help him-that they are going to try and relieve his pain and suffering. But again, this is only a naive illusion. Instead, he becomes a guinea pig for experimental electroshock therapy.
The electroshock therapy causes him to forget who he is. This is symbolic of how his continual exploitation has been robbing him of identity. After he recovers from the amnesia and leaves the hospital, he realizes that he is no longer afraid of important men since he no longer expects anything from them. He is still a long way away, however, from full disillusionment. A few days later, as he is walking down a street in Harlem, he happens upon a crowd gathered where an old black couple are being evicted from their apartment. Here he gives a speech about how the couple has been disowned by society-about how the entire black race has been disowned by society. This speech motivates the crowd to attack the evictors. Later that day, someone who witnessed the incident approaches the narrator. The anonymous person offers the narrator a job as a public speaker. The narrator eventually accepts and joins the political organization known as the Brotherhood. In the first speech he gives for the Brotherhood, he says that we are all like one-eyed men walking down opposite sides of the street. If someone starts throwing bricks, we start blaming each other and fighting among ourselves. This description later proves to be more accurate than he thought.
The main conflict of this part book is that Dr. Bledsoe lied to him about trying to help him. First he gives him false letters of recommendation. Then after deciding to not go back to the college he gets a job at a paint factory. Little does he know he is to be a guinea pig for their experiments. After the electroshock therapy he loses all if his memory.
Metaphor We the machines inside the machine Pg. 104
Symbol all like one-eyed men walking down opposite sides of the street Pg. 106
A - In the next part of the book, I am predicting that the will become a celebrity of a sort. The Brotherhood may even clothe and shelter him. Afterwards, he will finally start to become somebody in society. Afterwards he may become something he has always wanted, or get the chance to.
C If I could have changed any decision, it would have been to give up on going to the college. I would have tried to go to one of the places Dr. Bledsoe said, but do not give the letter of recommendation to them. Instead I would try to apply for a job as any other person would. If that did not work, I would try to get a different kind of job, other then working at a paint factory.
1) Electroshock Administration of electric current to the brain through electrodes placed on the head in order to induce seizure activity in the brain. Pg. 106
2) Society The totality of social relationships among humans Pg. 107
3) Symbolic Of, relating to, or expressed by means of symbols or a symbol.Pg. 113
4) Forsaken To give up (something formerly held dear); renounce: forsook liquor Pg. 126