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Invisible Man

Invisible Man

by Ralph Ellison

Invisible Man Chapter 4 Summary

  • The narrator takes Mr. Norton back to school. He is super anxious that Mr. Norton's going to give a bad report to Dr. Bledsoe. He curses Trueblood, blaming him for having gotten Mr. Norton into such a fit that he needed to go to the Golden Day. Tears come to the narrator's eyes in self-pity. He hates the thought of going to school, thinking of the humiliation he would face from people back home. He imagines apologizing to Mr. Norton, assuring him that his beliefs are aligned with the Founder's beliefs.
  • When they arrive at Mr. Norton's quarters, the narrator stammers out an apology. Mr. Norton looks stern and tells the narrator to go to Dr. Bledsoe.
  • The narrator fearfully goes to Dr. Bledsoe, who can immediately tell that something is wrong. He gets part of the story out of the narrator and is infuriated that the narrator took Mr. Norton to the slave quarters where Trueblood lives. Dr. Bledsoe figures the narrator had more sense than to do what Mr. Norton wanted; he says that the narrator should have shown him what the narrator wanted him to see, not what Mr. Norton wanted to see. This deeply confuses the narrator, who has seen Dr. Bledsoe be nothing but humble and subservient to the founders.
  • Dr. Bledsoe rushes over to Mr. Norton, with the narrator in tow.
  • Dr. Bledsoe profusely apologizes to Mr. Norton, assuring him that the narrator will be punished. Mr. Norton claims that the narrator is not to blame, and the narrator tears up in gratitude. Dr. Bledsoe orders the narrator to leave and go to chapel that evening…
  • The girl who is working as a receptionist asks the narrator to deliver a cryptic message to Jack Maston, the narrator's neighbor in the dorm. The message is merely, "The grass is green," which the narrator assumes is a signal for a booty call.
  • The narrator is still worried about his future at the school; no (sane) person can back his story. He goes back to his dorm room and says hi to his roommate. His roommate asks if he wants to get food, and when the narrator declines, he leaves.
  • A freshman knocks on the door and delivers a message from Dr. Bledsoe. The narrator is to meet him down at Rabb Hall, which is where Mr. Norton is staying.
  • When the narrator arrives at Rabb Hall, Mr. Norton tells him that Dr. Bledsoe had to leave. Mr. Norton clarifies that he has explained the narrator's innocence to Dr. Bledsoe.
  • Mr. Norton will leave that night, and the narrator expresses his hope that he will know more about his fate the next time the two meet.
  • The narrator leaves, worried about his meeting with Dr. Bledsoe.

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