The novel “The Invisible Man” is a striking example of an inexplicable fortune that invariably confounds sociologists and marketers asking questions: “How did Ellison become a genius?” and “How did an almost unknown novelist suddenly create one of the greatest American novels?
Racial prejudice is the most pernicious form of blindness in Ellison’s novel, but it is not the only one. Norton, a wealthy, white trustee of the narrator’s college, cannot or will not see the true nature of his black beneficiaries’ lives.
But even more damaging, the book suggests, is his inability to acknowledge the true nature of his own self.
Norton’s fascinated response to Trueblood’s tale of incest suggests that beneath his deceptively innocent face—“pink like St.
Nicholas”—Norton shares Trueblood’s perverse instincts. Norton expresses fervid devotion for his own daughter, deliriously describing her beauty in poetic terms.
The nameless voyager passes through a series of ordeals or trials to demonstrate his stature.
First, he passes through the initiation—rites of our society...Norton takes pride in his work with the college not because of a selfless dedication to social causes, but because it gives him the power to direct and control the students’ lives.Norton states that the college students are “bound to a great dream and to a beautiful monument.” Ellison’s use of the word “bound” here draws a parallel—perhaps unconscious on Norton’s part—between the trustee-student relationship and the slaveholder-slave relationship.Like many white characters in the novel, Norton is blind to the realities of black people’s lives.However, his form of prejudice is more covert than others, as he outwardly presents himself as a great supporter of black causes.Blindness symbolizes the deliberate avoidance of truth, and in the novel it has the power to remake the world according to its vision (or lack thereof).The narrator, for example, claims that he has turned invisible because other people refuse to see him.The decision to order papers on our site will also be a good opportunity to succeed in your education.You can change your low grades into higher ones with our help.When Norton does come face to face with the reality of life outside campus grounds, through his exposure to Trueblood and the Golden Day tavern, he suffers a heart attack, an apparent sign of his inability to handle the truth.If his figurative blindness prevents Norton from properly seeing his black beneficiaries, it also prevents him from properly seeing himself.