The Idea Of The Hypersexual Black Male In The Invisible Man

698 words - 3 pages

In the Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison, the narrator’s view of women is generally pessimistic. His negative view of women is also reflected by women, specifically of Caucasian ethnicity. Their societal depiction of black men considers them to be hypersexual objects and incapable of anything else. Emma, Brother Hubert’s wife, and Sybil, are three women in particular who possess negative character flaws that allow the narrator to deem them unworthy. Emma’s tremendous dominance give the impression of being unapproachable while Brother Hubert’s wife’s infidelity and ability to control confuses him and finally, Sybil’s decadence makes her appear sloppy. All of these flaws are used to reduce the narrator to a sexual tool at the expense of his intellect.
The first woman seen is Emma, a Brotherhood employee, who is perceived to be very powerful and demeaning toward the narrator although physically attracted to him. She engages in limited dialog which, I believe is intended to paint her as diminutive; however she is described as “smartly dressed” with a “hard, handsome face” (300). Her face-to-face interaction is described as her glaring at him with a “what-type-of-mere-man-have-we-here kind of look” (302) and producing a violent muscle twitch in the narrator’s leg. The narrator’s discomfort increases after Emma’s questions Brother Jack saying, “…don’t you think he should be a little blacker?” (303). In my opinion, her appeal in the narrator is shown through her question but it also emphasizes how his knowledge is overshadowed by his looks in her opinion. The narrator’s internal response of showing “how really black” (303) he is leads me to believe that he privately admits to feeling mutually but considers himself insufficient to fulfill it.
The next woman introduced is Brother Hubert’s unnamed wife, brought in after his first presentation of the Woman Question; she uses the narrator through her false interest in the Brotherhood’s ideals to coerce him into submission of her. Her wealth intrigues him while the wine served reduces his inhibitions and encourages his conversation making him get “carried away by [his] own enthusiasm” (414). Her...

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