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Invisible Man

Invisible Man


by Ralph Ellison

Invisible Man Power Quotes

How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Chapter.Paragraph)

Quote #1

I am invisible, understand, simply because people refuse to see me. (Prologue.1)

Other people have the power to render the narrator visible or invisible.

Quote #2

That is why I fight my battle with Monopolated Light & Power. The deeper reason, I mean: It allows me to feel my vital aliveness. I also fight them for taking so much of my money before I learned to protect myself (Prologue.7)

By sticking it to the powers-that-be, the narrator is able to feel alive. This is his form of protest.

Quote #3

"Tell anyone you like," he said. "I don't care. I wouldn't raise my little finger to stop you because I don't owe anyone a thing, son. Who, Negroes? Negroes don't control this school or much of anything else – haven't you learned even that? No sir, they don't control this school, nor white folk either. True they support it, but I control it. It's big and black and I say 'Yes, suh' as loudly as any burrhead when it's convenient, but I'm still the king down here. I don't care how much it appears otherwise. Power doesn't have to show off. Power is confident, self-assuring, self-starting and self-stopping, self-warming and self-justifying. When you have it, you know it. Let the Negroes snicker and the crackers laugh! Those are the facts, son. The only ones I even pretend to please are big white folks, and even those I control more than they control me. This is a power set-up, son, and I'm at the controls. You think about that. When you buck against me, you're bucking against power, rich white folk's power, the nation's power – which means government power!" (6.73)

Dr. Bledsoe is openly indicating that his power is supported by "rich white folk's power," and that he must constantly maintain a façade of servility and humility in front of whites. As for his definition of power as "confident, self-assuring, self-starting and self-stopping, self-warming and self-justifying," what does that mean?

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