My Analysis of Invisible Man
The narrator begins telling his story with the claim that he is an “invisible man.” His invisibility, he says, is not a physical condition (he is not literally invisible), but is rather the result of the refusal of others to see him. He says that because of his invisibility, he has been hiding from the world, living underground and stealing electricity from the Monopolated Light & Power Company. He burns 1,369 light bulbs simultaneously and listens to Louis Armstrong’s “ What Did I Do to Be So” Black and Blue on a phonograph. He says that he has gone underground in order to write the story of his life and invisibility. (Pg. 3-8)
As a young man, in the late 1920s or early 1930s, the narrator lived in the south, because he is a gifted public speaker, he is invited to give a speech to a group of important white men in his town. (The Battle Royal, Pg. 17) The men reward him with a briefcase containing a scholarship to a prestigious black college, but only after humiliating him by forcing him to fight in a “battle royal” in which he is pitted against other young black men, all blindfolded, in a boxing ring. After the battle royal, the white men force the youths to scramble over an electrified rug in order to snatch at fake gold coins. The narrator has a dream that night in which he imagines that his scholarship is actually a piece of paper reading “ To Whom It May Concern… Keep This Nigger-Boy Running.”