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Invisible Man

Invisible Man

by Ralph Ellison

Ras the Exhorter Timeline and Summary

  • When the narrator disappears inside of Louis Armstrong's music in the Prologue, he thinks he hears Ras the Destroyer following him.
  • When the narrator arrives in Harlem, one of the first things he sees is a public assembly with Ras the Exhorter talking on top of a ladder.
  • Ras the Exhorter gets into a scuffle with Clifton; this causes Clifton to be late to the first committee meeting that the narrator presides over.
  • Ras and his crew crash the Brotherhood's first street talk, throwing garbage at the narrator and breaking up the assembly.
  • Ras threatens to kill Clifton with a knife. He hates the fact that Clifton is black but working with white people in the Brotherhood. He says Clifton could be a black king and calls him a traitor to the black community. He's not crazy about the narrator either. Ras falls down after Clifton knocks him out.
  • Ras calls the narrator out to the crowd after Clifton's death. He asks him what the Brotherhood is going to do about the shooting. His men follow the narrator threateningly.
  • Ras tells the crowd that it is the time for action. He changes his name from Ras the Exhorter to Ras the Destroyer.
  • Ras the Destroyer instigates a riot, gathering people to raid the armory and fight against the whites with guns.
  • Ras the Destroyer is dressed as an Abyssinian king, hitting the streets and calling for people to stop looting and start fighting with him. He advises that all people follow him to the armory to get firearms.
  • He runs into the police and uses his shield, spear, and guns to fight them off.
  • When the narrator is found in Ras's presence, Ras throws a spear at him, misses, and hits a mannequin instead. The narrator denies being part of the Brotherhood, saying that they used him, just as they used Ras without him knowing it. Ras calls for the crowd to capture him and have him hung.
  • The narrator hits Ras in the jaw with a spear.

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