"The Invisible Man" Life As A Puppet

1222 words - 5 pages

There are many dolls around us in life. There are G. I. Joe's, Barbie's, and a countless number of action figures. Before these new age dolls, there were old ones, ones made out of paper and porcelain, and a Pinocchio here and there. People seem to be unusually interested in these lifeless impressions of ourselves. Children use them and play "war", put them in houses and convertibles, while adults seem to like to collect them and let them sit, motionless, on a shelf to look at real life. This brings me to an intriguing question. Are people merely dolls for other people to play with or collect? One could make the argument that we are all Tod Cliftons', doomed to dance by invisible strings for people's entertainment while wearing a mask of individualism. However, most of us will not realize that who pulls the string, is not ourselves. The Invisible Man is filled with images of dolls like it is constantly trying to remind the reader that no one is in complete control of themselves. Our first example of a doll comes very early in the novel with the Battle Royal scene. The nude, blonde woman is described as having hair "that was yellow like that of a circus kewpie doll" (19). There is an extremely strong connection between the predicament of the young black children (all Negroes) and the white woman (women). The fact that they are both shown as puppets or dolls used for the entertainment of white men is no coincidence. A recurring thought throughout the novel is that women and the Africans are merely show pieces for the white men to enjoy themselves with. Tod Clifton's dancing Sambo dolls are the most apparent dolls in this book because they are labeled as dolls. These small tissue paper dolls really changed the Invisible Man. This is where the light turns on in his brain and he says oooooh. When he saw that it was the powerful Tod Clifton that was selling the offensive dolls, he was so mad and humiliated that he spat on the doll. It was not Tod Clifton selling the dolls that made him so perturbed. The Invisible Man's sudden realization of his own situation is what made him so angry. "For a second our eyes met and he gave me a contemptuous smile." (433) This line shows this realization of the Invisible Man. It shows that Tod Clifton was aware that he was a "puppet" all along. It shows that he enlightens the Invisible Man that we are all puppets bound by strings and a puppeteer. The Invisible Man recognizes that all his life he's been a slave and a puppet to others. Whether those others were Bledsoe, his grandfather, or the brotherhood is not very important. What is important is that there has always been an unnoticed "string" attached to him controlling his every action. "Its cardboard hands were clenched into fists. The fingers outlined in orange paint, and I noticed that it had two faces, one on either side of the disks of cardboard, and both grinning." (446) Hands in the shape of fists. This is basically...

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