by Ralph Ellison
Invisible Man Theme of Power
Power infuses nearly all of the relationships depicted in Invisible Man. More specifically, white male power threads its way throughout the novel. Even in situations where there are no white males present, it's clear that white males hold the power. Other people who hold any form of power—Dr. Bledsoe, the narrator for a period of time, and Brother Clifton—hold it only through the largesse or "generosity" of white men.
Questions About Power
- What does Dr. Bledsoe sacrifice in order to maintain his power over the college? How did he get his power in the first place?
- Dr. Bledsoe argues that power is "confident, self-assuring, self-starting and self-stopping, self-warming and self-justifying." By this definition, who is the most powerful figure or institution in the novel?
Chew on This
Dr. Bledsoe must always pretend to bow and scrape to white power in order to maintain his real power over the college.