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The Voice Of The Dispossessed Essay

1683 words - 7 pages

THE VOICE OF THE DISPOSSESSED The four main speeches seem to be the catalyst that propels Invisible Man from one situation to another. The speeches open up many opportunities for him and, at the same time force him to confront the world around him.Words are how IM expresses himself and how he finds satisfaction in being. He loves nothing more than speaking to a crowd, to hold them with his every word and make them feel something through him that they hadn't felt before. Oration seems to be the only way IM can individualize himself. On the surface, it seems that he works very hard at blending in, fitting in, and getting lost in the world, but when he's delivering a speech IM takes on a new form and in that form finds that part of himself that defines him not only as an individual, but also as a part of society.When we are first introduced to his talent for public speaking, IM is set to make a speech in front of the prominent white men of his town so he can accept his scholarship to the state college for Negroes. However, he first has to fight in a battle royal. This scene is shocking and nightmarish, but serves to set the tone for the surreal delivery of his speech. After the battle royal his mouth is bleeding and his eye is swollen. He's having a hard time seeing the crowd. We can make symbolic connections to his impaired vision and how he does not see his circumstance very clearly, as well as the blood he must swallow to continue his speech. The white men ignore him and only occasionally ask him to repeat something he has said, until he stumbles over the words social "equality." The room becomes deadly quiet and, "The laughter hung smokelike in the sudden stillness." The crowd begins booing and yelling things at him and eventually he corrects the word to the original phrase social "responsibility." Worried that it may not have been a slip of the tongue, he's told that they "want to do right by him" but he must remember his place. At this point, the reader is able to see that IM is idealistic and very naïve. He is determined to make this speech in front of this audience of bigoted businessmen who couldn't care less what he is saying. He cannot see that he is only a form of entertainment to them, much like a female dancer that was part of the night's festivities. This speech represents IM's initiation into the white man's arena-an arena that he very much wants to play in, but he isn't quite sure of the rules. He is really an innocent boy with no idea that this world of "generous" white men may not be on his side. This first speech serves to move him out of his present circumstance with a scholarship and a gift symbolic of upward mobility, a briefcase.The next speech takes us ahead a few months to the New York winter season. A great deal has happened to IM since his last speech. He is without a job and living off the generosity of a kind woman who has taken him in. One evening, in his aimless wanderings, he happens onto a group observing the...

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