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Invisible Man > Themes, Motifs, Topics, etc. > Dreams

Title: Dreams

virginiareticker - April 23, 2010 11:53 AM (GMT)

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Prologue - In the first dream, I.M. is drawn to a congregation in which the preacher is talking about "Blackness of Blackness". After listening for a while, the congregation forces I.M. to leave. He then meets a moaning, old singer of spirituals. She informs I.M. that she recently poisoned her master. However, she loved her master for giving her six sons, while at the same time hating him for enslaving her family. Her sons are laughing out of gratefulness while the mother is crying for her master. When I.M. turns to leave, one of the sons stops him and gets angry at I.M. for making his "ma" cry. This dream is a foreshadow of the ambiguity I.M. feels towards whites. In some case, the I.M. looks up to the white men for guidance, while in other cases, he hates them for their racism.

Chapter 1 - This dream starts out with I.M. at a circus with his grandfather. His grandfather is refusing to laugh at the clowns no matter what they did. Here, the clowns symbolize black people. This section of the dream is later symbolized when I.M breaks Mary's bank, which is a haunting, black, laughing man. The dream then moves onto a scene when I.M. and his grandfather are with his suitcase and the grandfather tells I.M. to open the letters inside. The "official" envelope has multiple smaller envelopes inside. He finally reaches the last envelope and inside it say, "To Whom It May Concern Keep That Nigger Boy Running." This saying foreshadows the rest of the book in which I.M. is kept running from one situation to the next. For example, the letters Bledsoe gives him which give him no future, his new identity is given to him in an envelope by the brotherhood which leads him nowhere, and when I.M. always thinks he does well at his speeches, but the Brothers always tell him differently (keeping him running).

Chapter 2 - This is Trueblood's dream which ends up with Trueblood having sex with his daughter. He finds himself in Mr. Broadnax house looking for fat meat when he sees a white lady. He tries to run away, however she grabs him by the neck and won't let go. He finally pushes her onto a bed and he finds himself walking through a tunnel (sexual innuendo) and wakes up having sex with his daughter. This dream foreshadows how white men and women latch on to I.M. and won't let him go until they get what they want, even if that means ruining I.M.'s life.

Chapter 6 - After the IM’s initial disappointment at being dismissed from the college, he becomes highly distraught and anxioious about his future. His mind is “whirling in a circle” as he reflects on the series of events that caused his expulsion. He also reflects on the dreams about his grandfather, which are significant to the story because they frame the novel. He invisions his grandfather standing over him and “grinning triumphantly”, as if he had won “the game”. This point in the novel is important because it is when the IM loses some of his confidence and faith in himself.

Chapter 9 -“I could hardly get to sleep for dreaming of revenge.” Pg 193
Summary: After the IM finds out from Mr. Emerson of the contents of Mr. Nortons letters, he is enraged that he had been moving from job to job only to find out that Mr. Norton was the reason that he was not able to stay in one place. He constantly dreams of what he would do to fight back but he never truly makes progress on revenge.

Chapter 11 - “I was sitting in a cold, white rigid chair…” pg. 231
Summary: The IM dreams that he is sitting in a white chair, and a man with a third eye looks at the IM and touches his head, and speaks “encouragingly” to him. The man gives him a pill to swallow. The fact that he willingly takes the pill without questioning reflects his naivety and his willingness to believe anything that is fed to him
Interpretation: The IM is constrained by the restrictions and the rigidity of the white society and the oppression that they put upon him. He feels as though the views of certain people leave a lasting impression on him. He looks down and he is in a pair of white overalls with a feeling of discomfort. The white overalls symbolize the stiffness of having to do the bidding of the white community, and the fact that the face he needs to put on for the whites must cover up who he truly is underneath the overalls.

Chapter 16
a. Invisible Man has a dream he becomes an important member of society, and he imagines himself as an important member of the brotherhood.
i. His subconscious yearns for identification of some sort, having importance and impacting others would be a way of reaching out and becoming a person of significance.
1. “It was no dream, the possibility existed”
ii. Because the IM has to be tutored by Hambro, he frets that this will repress him and further keep him from achieving his dream
b. This longing for significance encourages him to solidify his beliefs, become more opinionated, and generally be a bolder person.

Chapter 19
a. After sleeping with the white civil rights activist, the IM loses the ability to discern between dream and reality when her husband walks in and does not even notice the IM.
i. The IM lies in disbelief that a married couple could act in such a way to each other, and because this is so far from what he imagined a couple would act, he convinces himself it was a dream. He is blind to human interactions that stray from the norm.

Chapter 20
a. When Clifton was shot, the IM is plagued with a vicious taste of reality, and he realizes his dream caused his mind to wander away from real life.
i. “It's all my fault. I'd been so fascinated by the motion that I'd forgotten to measure what it was bringing forth. I'd been asleep, dreaming."
ii. Although in his mind, the IM deluded himself into believing the brotherhood was a group of accomplishment, he now realizes that they really have little significance, much like how he has little significance.

Chapter 22 :
Chapter 22 begins with the IM watching Brother Jack and the other members of the Brotherhood and says he feels he is almost reliving his dreams of his grandfather. He discusses the "dream-room" with his grandfather looking at him and he feels emotionless, when the proper feeling should be surprised. This same feeling is reflected in the room with the angry brothers, who are stifling his voice and identity. He refers to this lack of feeling as a warning, which foreshadows what is about to happen in this chapter, where Jack's false eye comes out and is a symbol for his loyalty to the Brotherhood.

Chapter 25 :
In chapter 25, as the IM is dying, he finally comes to his senses when he claims, "Then finally, when i could barely move, something seemed to say, "That's enough, don't kill yourself. You've run enough, you're through with them at last." This is where the IM finally comes to terms with his grandfather's curse, and establishes his own identity. As he is lying there, he is in a dream like state, while each item from his briefcase is being burned with him. He recalls Jack, Emerson, Bledsoe, Norton, Ras, the school superintendent, and anyone who has refused to see him as an individual and kept him running throughout the book. He establishes that he is through running and when he awakes from the dream, he chooses to die underground, instead of succumbing to the identities forced upon him by everyone. He is through running, and the only way he can stop running is to give up and accept himself.

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