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Invisible Man

Invisible Man


by Ralph Ellison

Brother Jack

Character Analysis

Brother Jack, our main contact with the Brotherhood is a pretty mysterious character. A white dude, he easily enters the narrator's life and offers him a ton of opportunities off the bat: money, a job, and the chance to represent his community. Sweet deal, right?

Wrong. There are many, many strings attached to the benefits that the narrator accrues through working for the Brotherhood. Check out Jack's letter to our narrator:

Brother, This is advice from a friend who has been watching you closely. Do not go too fast. Keep working for the people but remember that you are one of us and do not forget if you get too big they will cut you down. You are from the South and you know that this is a white man's world. So take a friendly advice and go easy so that you can keep on helping the colored people. They do not want you to go too fast and will cut you down if you do. Be smart… (18.2 – 18.3)

Brother Jack demands that the narrator renounce his past, focus on the collective, and use abstract jargon and ideology in his speeches. Although he professes to be in favor of racial equality, when the Brotherhood shifts its aims, Brother Jack willingly sacrifices the Harlem community without batting an eyelid.

Speaking of eyes… Brother Jack lacks one of his. His literal blindness is a metaphor for the flawed nature of his vision.

Brother Jack Timeline