Quincy And Greg On Invisibility

Chapters 17-18

Invisibility is a prominent theme throughout Invisible Man, and it reappears in chapters 17 and 18 through IM’s interactions with Brother Jack. After starting his lessons with Brother Hambro, IM becomes increasingly caught up in his studies and readings, eventually leading him to see less and less of Brother Jack. When Brother Jack finally contacts IM and takes him out for a drink, IM seems to appear almost invisible to him. IM describes his conversation with Brother Jack, stating, “He looked at me as though he did not see me” (359). In this moment, IM finds himself confused with Brother Jack’s manner, as he is unable to interpret the look on his face. IM is left with a feeling of invisibility because Brother Jack looks at him without really seeing him. This idea of invisibility to specifically Brother Jack is interesting since Brother Jack was the one who originally was so motivated to acquire IM as a spokesperson in the Brotherhood. Now it seems as if Brother Jack has lost interest in IM, and even though IM is becoming increasingly well known, he appears less visible to Brother Jack.

IM’s invisibility to Brother Jack also seems apparent during their meeting regarding Wrestrum’s charges against IM. Brother Jack plays the role of a mediator between Wrestrum’s argument and IM’s defense, and shows no pity or any sign of feeling for IM. IM describes Brother Jack’s face as being “completely neutral”, during his accusation from Wrestrum. As Brother Jack presides over the case in an expressionless, “neutral”, and judge-like manner, IM starts to feel traces of anger swelling within him. IM’s anger is fueled in part because of the accusations themselves, but also because of Brother Jack’s expressionless face, which makes IM feel invisible to his connections shared with Brother Jack. IM is struck by Brother Jacks “bland manner” when discussing IM’s situation (404). Brother Jack reveals little emotion towards IM, his “bland” appearance giving the impression that he doesn’t really care or have much interest in IM or his fate at all. Brother Jack fails to bail IM out from his charges, not cutting him any slack whatsoever. Jack even seems somewhat critical of IM, saying that IM is only innocent regarding “the magazine article” (404). Brother Jack seems to acknowledge Wrestrum’s idea that IM used the brotherhood to attain his own individualist ideals, and even after they deal the punishment to IM, Jack and the other members of the brotherhood were described to have “blank finality in their eyes” (406). The repeating bland and emotionless expressions on the faces of Brother Jack and the other brothers make IM seem unexciting, unimportant, and invisible to them. Brother Jack seems to have no feeling of regret or uncertainty after he punishes IM, and moves on from the decision without any interest in how IM feels. The friendship and interest that Brother Jack previously displayed for IM when he brought him into the Brotherhood demonstrated how visible IM and his skills were to Jack. But during this attack against IM as well as the conversation shared at the bar, IM becomes invisible to Brother Jack.

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