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Invisible Man

Invisible Man


by Ralph Ellison

Invisible Man Women and Femininity Quotes

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

Quote #1

A sea of faces, some hostile, some amused, ringed around us, and in the center, facing us, stood a magnificent blonde – stark naked. (1.7)

Both the young black men and the magnificent blonde are sources of entertainment for the white town leaders; their placement in similar situations reinforces this idea.

Quote #2

I felt a wave of irrational guilt and fear. My teeth chattered, my skin turned to goose flesh, my knees knocked. Yet I was strongly attracted and looked in spite of myself. Had the price of looking been blindness, I would have looked…Her breasts were firm and round as the domes of East Indian temples, and I stood so close as to see the fine skin texture and beads of pearly perspiration glistening like dew around the pink and erected buds of her nipples. I wanted at one and the same time to run from the room, to sink through the floor, or go to her and cover her from my eyes and the eyes of the others with my body; to feel the soft thighs, to caress her and destroy her, to love her and murder her, to hide from her, and yet to stroke where below the small American flag tattooed upon her belly her thighs forms a capital V. (1.7)

The naked woman's body enraptures the narrator, even though he knows that she is being objectified in a room full of men. This presages his later dilemma with the adoring fan, when his biology ultimately overcomes his ideology. This suggests that sex is at least one area of human life that cannot be systematized and neatly encompassed by ideology.

Quote #3

Then I became aware of the clarinet playing and the big shots yelling at us. Some threatened us if we looked and others if we did not. (1.8)

In the novel, the black men face a double standard of being seen as either hypersexual or asexual objects.

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