Ralph Ellison's interest in effective black leadership is directly reflected in Invisible Man. The characterization of Bledsoe in the beginning of the story is that of a ruthlessly self-serving black leader (McSweeny). In chapter five, a "mythic model" for black leadership is outlined in the eulogy of the founder of the college, which is given by Homer A. Barbee (McSweeny). While Invisible Man is residing in the apartment of Mary Rambo, she drills into his head the importance of leadership and responsibility. In chapter thirteen the anger of the crowd watching the eviction begins to rise, and as one onlooker observes that "All they need is a leader" (Ellison 274). These events lead to Invisible Man's first act of leadership when he delivers a spontaneous speech to the crowd.
Invisible Man comes to realize that the fundamental problem confronting a potential black leader is the lack of an infrastructure (McSweeny).
He states, "...we had no money, no intelligence apparatus, either in government, business or in labor unions; and no communications with our own people except through unsympathetic newspapers, a few Pullman porters, who brought provincial news from distant cities, and a group of domestics who reported the fairly uninteresting lives of their employers" (Ellison 511).
One of the reasons that the idea of joining the Brotherhood is so appealing to him is that it is a well organized group.
The character of Brother Jack has a very cynical view of black leadership. He believes that leaders are made, not born, and that they are eventually destroyed by the people who created them (McSweeny). This view of the nonspontaneous generation of black leaders might, however, be challenged by the moment in the race-riot in chapter 25 when Dupre and Scofield...