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Invisible Man

Invisible Man

by Ralph Ellison

Invisible Man Chapter 22 Summary

  • The narrator is called to a meeting with the Brotherhood.
  • He is surprised to learn that Brother Jack did not attend Clifton's funeral. This means that Brother Jack didn't get to see the huge turnout from the community.
  • Brother Tobitt continues to verbally attack the narrator.
  • The narrator explains that the committee wasn't responding to him, so he acted on "personal responsibility." Bad choice of words.
  • Brother Jack tells him that he's not supposed to think, that he wasn't hired to think, but to talk about what the Brotherhood wants him to talk about.
  • Brother Jack and Brother Tobitt lead a session of "Belittle the [Insert Nameless Narrator's Name Here]"! They're incredibly sarcastic and thwart the narrator's words at every turn. Brother Jack explains that he shouldn't have treated Clifton's death like a hero's death because Clifton betrayed the Brotherhood by selling the Sambo dolls.
  • This all angers the narrator, and he stands up for Clifton, pointing out that an unarmed man getting shot is sort of, kind of, DEFINITELY more important than what he was selling. The narrator explains that the community needed to express itself somehow.
  • The narrator stands up to Brother Tobitt, criticizing him for thinking that he knows what it means to be black. Brother Tobitt's defense is that he married a "fine, intelligent Negro girl."
  • Ah, the narrator says, I'm sorry, you clearly know all about being a Negro!
  • The narrator asks them what he should do if he thinks the Brotherhood has not thought of something, and Brother Jack advises him to be quiet in those situations. Brother Jack advises the narrator to let the committee do the thinking. The narrator claims that the voice of Harlem is something he knows about.
  • The narrator lets it slip that the people of Harlem think that the Brotherhood has betrayed them. He claims that is the reason why Clifton left. Brother Jack tells him that he's lying.
  • Brother Jack says that it is the Brotherhood's job to tell the public what to think. The narrator accuses him of being the "great white father."
  • Then there is a scuffle, and Brother Jack's false eye pops out. Yeah, he has a fake eye in his left eye. The narrator is both disgusted and shocked. The other people in the committee all seem to know already.
  • Brother Jack is proud of his fake eye because he claims he sacrificed the real one for the Brotherhood's cause. Brother Jack tells the narrator that discipline is really a whole lot of sacrifice. The narrator contemplates what it means that Brother Jack is half blind.
  • Brother Jack retrieves his eye from a full glass and puts it back in. He asks for the time (it's 6:15pm) and then says the committee must leave.
  • Brother Jack tells the narrator to visit Brother Hambro for further instructions. He advises the narrator to watch his temper.
  • As the committee leaves, the narrator stays in the room a little longer, thinking that he has to stay with the Brotherhood in order to have some kind of purpose. He figures Clifton is lucky to not have to worry about all this political stuff anymore.
  • The narrator decides that he will never be the same, that with Clifton dead, a part of him also died.
  • He flings the glass across the room and leaves.

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