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Quotes

Quote #1

That invisibility to which I refer occurs because of a peculiar disposition of the eyes of those with whom I come in contact. A matter of the construction of their inner eyes, those eyes with which they look through their physical eyes upon reality. (Prologue.2)

The narrator sets up the importance of a physical eye in this passage, which later comes in handy when analyzing Reverend Barbee and Brother Jack.

Quote #2

For instance, I have been carrying on a fight with Monopolated Light and Power for some time now. I use their service and pay them nothing at all, and they don't know it. Oh, they suspect that power is being drained off, but they don't know where. All they know is that according to the master meter back there in their power station a hell of a lot of free current is disappearing somewhere into the jungle of Harlem. The joke, of course, is that I don't live in Harlem but in a border area. (Prologue.7)

Ripping off the power company is the narrator's form of social protest while maintaining his invisibility.

Quote #3

On his deathbed he called my father to him and said, "Son, after I'm gone I want you to keep up the good fight. I never told you, but our life is a war and I have been a traitor all my born days, a spy in the enemy's country ever since I give up my gun back in the Reconstruction. Live with your head in the lion's mouth. I want you to overcome 'em with yeses, undermine 'em with grins, agree 'em to death and destruction, let 'em swoller you till they vomit or bust wide open…Learn it to the younguns," he whispered fiercely; then he died. (1.2)

The narrator's grandfather advises compliance as the route to eventually overcoming white-dominated society. His words are a refrain throughout the book; each time it reappears, it is given new meaning.

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