Study Guide

Invisible Man Chapter 6

By Ralph Ellison

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Chapter 6

  • The narrator hears people talking about Barbee's sermon on his way to Dr. Bledsoe's office. He almost backs out of going, but ultimately forces himself to go in.
  • Dr. Bledsoe seems to be in a joking manner at first, which relaxes the narrator a little bit. But then Dr. Bledsoe attacks the narrator. Dr. Bledsoe wants to know who the vet was and whether anyone had told the narrator to bring Mr. Norton to Trueblood's area.
  • The narrator defends himself, saying that he was merely following Mr. Norton's orders.
  • Dr. Bledsoe is amazed, marveling at the narrator's inability to lie, saying that lies are the only way to please the white people.
  • He expels the narrator, whose immediate reaction is to protest and rebel. He threatens Dr. Bledsoe by saying that he'll tell Mr. Norton about his expulsion.
  • Dr. Bledsoe laughs and calls for the narrator to come back into his office. He gives him a big lecture on how the school is not run by white or black people, but by him. Dr. Bledsoe declares himself one of the most influential people, daring the narrator to tell Mr. Norton. Dr. Bledsoe says that white people only believe what Dr. Bledsoe lets them believe.
  • Dr. Bledsoe tells the narrator that he had to "act the n*****" in order to get to his position of authority and he's going to hold on to the status he's got, even if it means every black person has to hang from tree limbs (read: be lynched).
  • The narrator is absolutely shocked. The president of his college doesn't actually believe in black progress.
  • Dr. Bledsoe tells the narrator that he can relate to him; he knows what he must be thinking, worrying about his hurt pride and what people at home would think. Dr. Bledsoe states that he likes the looks of the narrator's fighter potential.
  • He orders him to go to New York for the summer and make money to return for the next school year. He says he will get the narrator in touch with some of the school's friends up North. He orders the narrator to leave within two days.
  • The narrator leaves Dr. Bledsoe's office, the day's events swirling in his mind. He packs up and decides to leave the next day. He has fifty dollars saved up that will suffice for room and board at Men's House in New York.
  • The narrator goes to Dr. Bledsoe's office in the morning to announce his early departure. He asks for the contacts, and Dr. Bledsoe has his secretary give him seven letters. He insists that the narrator not read the content of the letters, assuring him that they are complimentary.
  • The narrator takes the letters and his bags and goes on the bus.

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