The Significance Of Mr. Norton And Fate In Invisible Man By Ralph Ellison

2177 words - 9 pages

The Significance of Mr. Norton and Fate in Invisible Man

 
     In his novel Invisible Man, Ralph Ellison has developed the invisible man by using the actions of other characters. Through his prophecy, Mr. Norton has secured the destiny of the narrator, himself, and all persons in the novel. Mr. Norton forebodes that the narrator will determine his fate, but Mr. Norton doesn't realize that the fate determined is universal: that every being is invisible and without this knowledge, people are blinded by their own invisibility. The narrator is able to come to terms with this self-realization at the end of the end of the novel, and by doing so, he has become an individual and a free man of society, which in essence, is what Mr. Norton had first symbolized in the narrator's mind. At the end though, Mr. Norton will symbolize a blind, shameful society that the narrator becomes invisible to. The narrator was only able to become invisible by Mr. Norton's foreshadowing; for it was he who helped drive the narrator to the North and accompany his fate.

 

Mr. Norton, a rich, Southern, white trustee, claims that the narrator and the black people "were some how closely connected" with his destiny. This man contributed funds to the college as a tribute for his deceased daughter, which startled the narrator, for this white man poured his heart out to him.

 

"That was something I never did; it was dangerous. First, it was dangerous if you felt like that about anything, because then you'd never get it or something or someone would take it away from you; then it was dangerous because nobody would understand you and they'd only laugh and think you were crazy", (Ellison 43).

 

The narrator is afraid to open himself up for anybody because he feels that he will only set himself up for disappointment. Mr. Norton, on the other hand, does not feel the same as the narrator. He feels that by telling the narrator that he is the link to his fate, then the narrator will become a greater being, thus elevating Mr. Norton.

 

"What do you think of my idea, young man?" he said.

"I don't know, sir. I only think that you have what you're looking for. Because if I fail or leave school, it doesn't seem to me it would be at your fault. Because you helped make the school what it is."

"And you think that enough?"

"Yes, sir. That's what the president tells us. You have yours, and you got it yourself, and we have to lift oursleves up the same way", (Ellison 44-45).

 

Mr. Norton firmly believes that he is responsible for the outcome of the narrator, while the narrator feels that he is solely responsible for himself. This difference of opinion will only end up blinding Mr. Norton, for later on, it will be discovered that his poor attempts to convince the narrator that he is a part of his fate will bitterly explode into the pathetic reality of his life. Mr. Norton exclaims to the narrator, "You are important because if you fail, I have...

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