Invisible Man Essay, Research Paper
A significant and memorable scene that occurs in this book is when the invisible man is working for Mr. Kimbro at Liberty Paints. For the invisible man s first real job in the north he is told to add dope to a black substance to make it white. Throughout the narration of this scene it is painfully clear the depiction of both the invisible man s and black race s struggle in this society.
Right before the invisible man is introduced to Mr. Kimbro the office boy states that people around the factory call him the Colonel , which sets the tone for how Mr. Kimbro is going to run the operation. To further show how the office boy feels about Mr. Kimbro he calls him a slave driver when he is leaving, an obvious statement how Mr. Kimbro works his people. When Mr. Kimbro is telling the invisible man what to do he tells him explicitly to follow instructions and do exactly what I tell you (199). Between what the office boy has said about Mr. Kimbro and how Mr. Kimbro is acting towards the invisible man, the invisible man must feel like he has been just thrown back into the racist southern states. This in turn must be confusing for him because he came to New York to get away from the stereotypical white man who is telling blacks what to do. And now here is a white man doing the exact thing that he has been trying to get away from. To further reinforce the readers view of how the invisible man is feeling he calls Mr. Kimbro a a flunkey, a northern redneck, a Yankee cracker! (201). This shows the audience that the invisible man is disturbed by his boss and wants to know where a black man can be treated equally.
Mr. Kimbro does represent racism in north, but the paint shows even more clearly the blacks problem in American society. When the invisible man to shown how to make the paint he first observes that Mr. Kimbro stirred a milky brown substance and after a short stirring period the paint became glossy white (199). I believe this shows that society is a mix of many colors of people and therefore has a black completion to it. But if it that society is mixed up the cream of the crop , whites, will rise to the top of the mixture.
Next Mr. Kimbro shows him that he has to add ten drops of dope to make the mixture even whiter. However, this confuses the invisible man because inside the white graduate the liquid was dead black . In this scene I believe that the white society is shown as the graduate and blacks as the paint. Thus the dope, blacks, are used to make the mixture, society, better. Meaning, that in society the blacks were used as labors to make the country look better. But because the American society, government, ambassadors, ext are represented by white men, the blacks working hard is making the whites look better. To further reinforce this point, Ellison chooses to graduate to be the color white. This is because the graduate holds the black dope together and thus shows the whites holding the blacks together. Furthermore, the graduate(whites) are responsible for adding blacks were ever they feel works needs to be done.
After the invisible man has been working for a while he runs out of the dope mixture and has to get more, but instead of getting the dope he used previously he accidentally gets concentrated remover. However, initially the invisible man is unaware of this and keeps working and mixing the paint. Though the process the invisible man noticed that the pigment and heavy oils came free of the bottom much quicker (202). I believe this is supposed to show that if blacks and minorities are giving the opportunity they will rise up in American culture. The heavy oils are blacks who are tired of being lower class citizens at the bottom and are moving up to get noticed by others. When the invisible man checks his works his is surprised to find that the paint is not an Optic white but instead a sticky goo through which I could see the grain of the wood and it had a gray tinge to it. This is supposed to represent the changing of the American culture. The gray paint is a more accurate description of America because it takes into account whites, blacks, and all other minority groups. Also, the white paint was shown to cover anything. But this new paint is more translucent. Which I believe means that historically whites have thought that they could cover up any of their problems in the past, such as slavery. But with this new paint allows someone to through it and see its grain. Meaning that society can correctly see its past history and not the one that whites were trying to show us.
Also this scene is supposed to show that this change can be seen as something positive instead of negative. This is because Kimbro, white society, does not decide to take the gray mixtures off the truck that is headed for national monuments. I believe this illustrates that whites subconsciously realize that they need to be acknowledge everyone regardless of their skin color and should display it proudly.
The smartness of this scene and more broadly the book is its ability to exist on many levels. Ellison being able to portray the issue of race and inequality through a simple paint factory is remarkable, and for this reason this has been the most interesting and enjoyable work they we have read so far this semester.