Where have I been? Would you believe I fell down a manhole on to a pile of coal and was trapped in the dark?
Would you believe I’ve been installing 1,369 lightbulbs into my underground home, stealing power from the electric company?
Would you believe I had a classic book identity crisis and wasn’t sure I could take yet another disturbing, depressing novel ending?
I should have paid closer attention to Emma’ prediction in chapter fourteen. I could have better prepared myself.
“Tell me, where did you find this young hero of the people?
“I didn’t,” Brother Jack said. “He simply arose out of a crowd. The people always throw up their leaders, you know…”
“Throw them up,” she said, “Nonsense, they chew them up and spit them out. Their leaders are made, not born. Then they’re destroyed. You’ve always said that.”
After that quote, it took another two hundred pages for the narrator to be properly chewed up and spat out. Two hundred pages of shock and horror. Deception and betrayal. Shootings and riots.
The chaos comes to an abrupt end; the narrator shares from his celler, “I’m invisible, not blind.”
I wasn’t blind at our wrap-up, but I did have a case of selective mutism. When it came time to answer the question, “What is the author’s argument?”, I gave a shoulder shrug, staring blankly at my reading partners. Finally, I threw out a weak comparison with Native Son and latched on to the word hopelessness. Jeannette disagreed. She felt Invisible Man had a more hopeful ending than the close of Wright’s novel did. She saw Ellison demonstrating a need for enlightenment, particularly regarding the United States’ historical journey.
What were your thoughts at the end of Invisible Man? Was the ending hopeful or not?