Battle Royale of Humanity in The Invisible Man: Critical Analysis

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The Invisible man is forced to join a brutal brawl in exchange for his humanity. The narrator (invisible man) in the story is being challenged of his naïve nature in a society that wants him to act in a particular manner. The invisible man at the end receives some money to go to an all-black school. Your dignity is not worth being wasted in exchange for your humanity. Humanity in general is a universal term, because everybody understands that there is a right and a wrong. It’s just a matter of people recognizing it when the see it.

The Invisible Man in the story was an expression, not necessarily a name. The narrator comes to see his grandfather on his death bed, and he explains to him what it meant to be an invisible man. The Grand-father quotes “I never told you, but our life is a war and I have been a traitor all my born days, a spy in the enemy’s country ever since I give up my gun back in reconstruction”(Grand-father 288). There was never a time when the Grand-father felt at peace in the society that he was in. However, he had a meek mentality. He was able to undermine and get what he wanted by doing whatever society told him to do. He explains this to the narrator in the story.

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The narrator in the story was seen in society as a good boy. “I was praised by the most lily-white men in town” (Narrator 289). The narrator also considers himself a version two Booker T. Washington. He was praised because he gave the white man no trouble. But this is where his naïve nature challenges his dignity. The narrator was forced to join what the white man called “Battle Royale”. This was a spectacle where the rich white people gathered together in a venue, and watch the Negroes beat each other mercilessly. At the end of the story the narrator was the last man standing in the ring. He wanted to give a speech. The people in the audience gave him no attention or courtesy while he was on the podium giving his triumphant speech after an embarrassing episode for himself and his people. The narrator could barely even speak because blood was spewing from his mouth. “Social Responsibility” (The Narrator 296). “What’s the word you say, boy” (White man 296). “Social Responsibility I said” (The Narrator). The room laughed at him and then the narrator said something that triggered an unpleasant feeling in the atmosphere. “Social Equality” (The Narrator 297). A white man came from the crowd to confront the narrator on what he said. He had an exchange with him. “Say that slowly son” (White man 297). “What sir?” (The Narrator 297). With outrage the man asked “What you just said?” (White man 297). “Social responsibility sir” (The Narrator 297). “You weren’t being smart were you boy?” (White man 297). “No sir” (The Narrator 297). “You sure about ‘equality’ was a mistake?” (White man 297). “Oh yes sir I was swallowing blood”(The Narrator 297). “Well you had better speak more slowly so we can understand. We mean to right by you but you’ve got to know your place at all times” (White man 297). This exchange reflects on what the narrator’s Grand-father was talking about. However, this situation had the expense of the narrator’s sense of self and dignity in exchange for his humanity.

Take a modern day man and woman relationship for example. The woman in the relationship is looked at by men as a good woman. Even though she’s a good woman the man treats her like garbage. The woman has no right to protect herself, work for herself, speak for herself, and feed herself. So in this hypothetical world the man has to keep the woman in fear that when she tries to defend her dignity she is bought back down. This is just like the situation with the speech. The narrator understood that he was being mistreated. So he decided to speak up, but when he did he was questioned. He did not dare to repeat the word “Social Equality” because he was in fear that if he did something was going to happen. He gave up his dignity in exchange for humanity. There is no balance in that because humanity is universal. When you know something is wrong speak out on it. Because at the end of the day who will be the fool later on.


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