Ripping off the Blindfold

The scene before the battle royal begins, with the woman dancing in the ring complicates the idea of invisibility, individuality, and identity. “I had a notion that of all in the room she saw only me with her impersonal eyes” (19). I wondered, is there a borderline to being invisible but feeling like the most noticeable person on earth. Throughout the whole actual battle scene the narrator fails to be unrecognized or ignored amongst the fighting sweaty boys. It is undetermined whether or not he stood out because of his race or anything else, but he was a central focus to the antagonizing adults.

This moment with the tortured woman made me question the true nature of the narrator’s invisibility. In the same vain, what set of seeing or not seeing forged his way to be invisible, for when he gets to college, and even in this scene, blindfolds are distributed to be worn by all.

Still the narrator relies heavily on other senses. His extraordinary attention to detail is prominent throughout the telling of his tale. Everything he utters is felt with deepest emotion and accuracy to his vision and his memory. For these senses are his, which makes them all the more unique because he is invisible. And his senses are superhuman, supersonic senses, for he can delve his body inside a Louis Armstrong song and find a Church’s service in its strings of musicality. When thinking of the senses in this way that “Third eye monster” of Ellison’s becomes an almost super hero creature to the narrator’s subconscious. If being blindfolded by school, race, regulations and etc. turned the invisible man into that nameless face than sprucing up his hole with lights or donning a “photographic lens” as a third eye not only gives him the power to see but to be seen. Thus the woman in the beginning stages of the novel is seen through that third lens because she sees him.

And that “third eye” wonderment even appears in Invisible Man during the hospital scene, “and a man was looking out of a bright third eye that glowed from the center of his forehead” (231). It is semi-ironic that the third eye appears in this scene for the doctors.  The doctors are characterized as monsters in a sense, probing and probing the physical and mental body of the narrator. But another way in which it is ironic is that this scene, this chapter, is issued as a transitory one because the narrator is going through a rebirthing process – with literally no identity and no name. Thus there is also a simultaneous fear of the third eye, for now the narrator can no longer see or name himself – for he knows of nothing, and because someone else is seeing him – whether fictitiously true or not. So in this case, the “third eye” is an ominous portrayal of the life and the person that he left behind and the stereotypes of remaking a person.  Still he regains his sense of self by being only “invisible, not blind” (576) and by being “ ‘against’ ” society. Only when he separated from the pack of a forced community, embraced that third eye – which in Ellison’s case was physical – that inner eye releases an inner self, and his identity is no longer invisible.

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