Study Guide

Invisible Man Chapter 7

By Ralph Ellison

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Chapter 7

  • The narrator goes to the train station, buys a ticket and enters the bus. Guess who he sees there? The vet from the Golden Day is there along with his chaperone, Mr. Crenshaw. They all sit in the back of the bus. (Very non-Rosa Parks.)
  • The vet tells the narrator that he is going to Washington, D.C., having been transferred to another asylum. When he learns that the narrator is going to New York for work, he suggests that he make the most of his freedom up there. He suggests finding freedom with a girl—possibly even a white one.
  • The vet gives the narrator some advice, which is basically to play the game with smarts. The vet teases Mr. Crenshaw when he butts in, his remarks implying that Mr. Crenshaw ran away North when he wasn't a free man.
  • The narrator is sad to pull away from the campus, associating his identity with the school.
  • The vet and Mr. Crenshaw get off the bus to transfer. The vet tells the narrator that the "world is possibility" and that he needs to stay away from the Mr. Nortons of the world. The narrator is glad when he leaves, though he feels lonely on the bus soon after.
  • The narrator spends his time on the bus fantasizing about the culture and reputation he will have gained from New York by the time he arrives back at school.
  • He gets off and takes the subway to Harlem. He is crammed up against a white woman in the subway, and he is very scared that she's going to scream and accuse him of touching her. But she doesn't do anything; she seems to barely notice him. He gets off as soon as possible, extremely stressed out.
  • The narrator walks the streets of New York, marveling that white drivers heed the directions of a black police officer. He thinks he's living the dream when he hears a group of angry black people led by a short black man referred to as "Ras." Two white police officers guard the assembly from the side and offer to help the narrator when he's standing there looking confused.
  • The narrator asks for directions to Men's House and he goes on his way, afraid to look back in case of a riot.

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