Monday, July 6, 2009

Summary of the First Session, Post-Session #1 Assignments, & Pre-Session #2 Assignments

I. A Summary of the First Session

For the first five minutes you shared with the people sitting near you observations of "what stood out" to you while reading the first eleven chapters of Invisible Man. Then, one by one you each introduced one of the peers you spoke with and explained what you talked about with that peer.

I had planned this as a warm-up exercise -- lasting maybe twenty minutes -- but so much of what I'd hoped to deal with in the first hour came up in your discussions that I decided to roll with it. We talked about how the motifs -- the repeated ideas, images, etc. -- help the reader figure out what to pay attention to. We talked about how the first step is to notice choices the writer makes and the second step is to come up with ideas about the significance of those choices: how do those choices affect meaning? & that's the gist of AP writing: how does the way something is written influence the effect the writing has on the reader and the meaning the reader makes of the writing?

But what should we notice? Things that reoccur (words, images, ideas, etc.) Things that reoccur but with a difference. Things that seem symbolic or allegorical: what's the symbolic significance of Reverend Barbee's blindness or of the Golden Day (Supercargo as superego) or of the black mixed into Optic White or of the paint factory explosion, for example? Moments that make reference to culture, folklore, history outside the novel. (These are allusions.) For example what is the significance of the references to Louis Armstrong? Booker T. Washington? We should also pay attention to things that seem strange, that deviate from norms. Why is the protagonist unnamed, for example? (Lazy readers often say that strange things are "random"; strong readers are able to make meaning from author's choices, especially the ones that are most challenging.) Then we ask how are these things significant to the work as a whole?

We talked about a lot more in the first hour. As I review my notes, I may add more.

After a break we set up a chart for the motifs. I listed the motifs along an x-axis and listed the chapters along a y-axis then you offered specific examples. We found so much that we were able to spend nearly an hour on the first three chapters! (The next step is to make meaning using some of this data we've compiled.) [Note: for a more complete chart you can finish our class chart on your own and/or go to this webpage, scroll down to "motif chart" and click on the link.]

After the final break we tried out a learning strategy: student-led discussions. Sarah A. quoted Bledsoe talking about "these people" while referring to other African-Americans and collectively you didn't stop talking for more than twenty-minutes while I took notes. I then read over my notes of the discussion adding a point or two here and there while also asking follow up questions. (That's part of the strategy too.)

I wrapped up the exhilarating first session with the post-session assignments...

II. Post-Session Assignments
Click on the comment box below and paste in the following work...

1. After writing your name (first name, last initial) write down a motif you tracked along with five places you found the motif (a brief mention of how the motif appeared & the page number will suffice). You don't need to analyze or explain the motif at this point.

2. Now, explain how one of the motifs reveals something significant about the relationship between the protagonist's environment and his developing identity. This explanation should be 300+ words and include specific references to the text, including direct quotations. Interpretation and insight with developed support is what I'm looking for here. (This is a quintessential AP assignment.)

3. Because we didn't get to a discussion of the images you chose, post the page number and the quotation using only the first few words and last few words of the quotation, like this "'Our white is so white ... white clear through.'". (If you'd like to go above and beyond I'd love to hear why you think the image "most vividly conveys the protagonist's struggle between self and environment".)

4. Personal reflection: choose some idea in the book to apply to yourself and/or your surroundings. Write a paragraph (7+ sentences). Here are a few ideas:
*Invisibility. Are you invisible? How? Is someone else -- or some other group -- invisible at GHS or in Gloucester? Explain.
* Loss of innocence. Write about someone or something that you thought you knew and understood (like the occasion of the graduation speech (which entailed a battle royal first), like Bledsoe and the college, like the letters, etc.) but turned out to be quite different, quite disillusioning.
* Playing the game. Write about learning to play the game, to work with the system. What's gained? What's lost?
* Other ideas!?!?

Make sure you label each answer (1, 2, 3, 4) and include your first name and last initial at the beginning of the response.

Responses are due by Pumpkin Time Monday, July 13. (If you have trouble posting your work. Send it to

III. Pre-Session #2
You will show me this work as a "ticket" before the session. It's the hottest ticket in town.

* Continue to follow a motif you have chosen. Write down a motif you tracked along with at least five places you found the motif. (Some motifs will appear in every chapter.) A brief mention of how the motif appeared & the page number will suffice). You don't need to analyze or explain the motif at this point.

* Follow the key moments in the protagonist's identity development in relation to his environment. Where does the environment change? Where does his understanding of his environment change? Where does he change in response to his environment, especially in terms of ideology (what he believes and thinks is important), vocation (what he does), and sexuality? I'm especially interested in the choices the protagonist makes in response to his environment. Mark down the most important moments in the novel that deal with the protagonist's identity development (at least five). A brief comment about the moment & the page number will suffice.



Anonymous said...

is this where we leave the pre/post session work?

nFrye said...

Nancy F.

1. Violence/Fighting motifs
pp 4-5 "One night…invisible man!"
pp 8-9 "Once I saw a prizefighter…sense of time."
pp 21 "Get going in there!...the canvas."
pp 220-226 "He started out…victory."
pp 81-83 "Five men charged…mouth is.'"

2. As the protagonist of Invisible Man makes an effort to create his own identity and make his place in the world, he is faced with many violent situations. The author uses many fighting scenes in order to personify the struggle that the protagonist is having with his environment and even within himself.
The ways in which the main character relates situations or emotions, and also how he deals with difficult situations, involves violence. Even when not directly using violence, the protagonist makes allusions to fighting, especially boxing, such as describing music and timing: "Once I saw a prizefighter boxing a yokel…The yokel has simply stepped inside his opponent's sense of time." All of these examples of violence in the protagonist's actual life are just symbols that the author is using in order to convey the inner struggle that the main character is facing.
Sometimes, the author combines both the inner struggle and physical violence, such as when the protagonist fights Brockway. When the main character finally grows tired of all of the abuse that he feels he is facing at the hands of Brockway, he lashes out and ultimately loses the battle. This is yet another example of how the author is trying to convey a point using the violence motif. He seems to be trying to prove that violence and anger will not solve the problems that the protagonist faces.
Overall, the motif of violence in invisible man is used to make apparent to the reader the inner struggle of the author against his environment. Ellison uses physically violent scenes in order for the reader to understand the pain of trying and sometimes failing to make one's place in the world. Sometimes, the author even manages to combine the physical pain of violence with the emotional pain of the entire situation.

3. Although I guess this isn't exactly an image necessarily, I found this passage particularly profound. It really touched me and made me understand what the author was trying to say with this whole story and the whole concept of invisibility.
pp 3 "You ache with the need to convince yourself that you do exist in the real world, that you're a part of all the sound and anguish, and you strike out with your fists, you curse and you swear to make them recognize you. And, alas, it's seldom successful."

4. I think that parts of everyone are invisible. There are certain parts of every person the end up hidden due to the fear of becoming too vulnerable. People always fear vulnerability, and by making certain parts of ourselves invisible, we make ourselves less open to others.
Sometimes, we can't control what we make invisible, however. Sometimes, we really want to show people certain things about ourselves, but they can't always see what we want to show them. Maybe we do want to open up to them, but they won't, or maybe can't, see it. That can become very frustrating, as invisibility would. To say that one is invisible is to say that they aren't seen, not necessarily physically. And to avoid vulnerability, or due to ignorance, I believe that everyone is at least partly invisible.

Amy C. said...

Amy C.
1. Motif: Colors (white)

“We were going down the walk now, through the summer air, and he stopped to look at me with exasperation, as though I’d suddenly told him black was white.” pg. 102

“We make the best white paint in the world, I don’t give a damn what nobody says. Our white is so white you can paint a chunka coal and you’d have to crack it open with a sledge hammer to prove it wasn’t white clear through!” pg. 217

“ ‘If It’s Optic White, It’s the Right White’” I repeated and suddenly had to repress a laugh as a childhood jingle rang through my mind, “If you’re white, you’re right,” I said.” pg. 218

“…as I reached the valves, and hearing him yell, “Turn it! Turn it!”
“Which?” I yelled, reaching.
“The white one, fool, the white one!” ” pg. 229

“I listened intensely, aware of the form and movement of sentences and grasping the now subtle rhythmical differences between progressions of sound that questioned and those that made a statement. But still their meanings were lost in the vast whiteness in which I myself was lost.” pg. 238

2. The motif of violence seems to appear in turning points in the protagonist’s life, with the exception of the first appearance during the prologue and even that might be a turning point that we don’t know about yet. The first major episode of violence occurs at the battle royal, “A glove smacked against my head…get your money” pg. 22-29. The battle royal occurs at a pivotal point in the protagonist’s life-he receives a scholarship to go to college, something he dreamed of doing. The next time violence shows up is in the Golden Day, “I watched…blood and beer.” pg. 84. A man at the Golden day is beaten unconscious by other patrons and even though the protagonist is not involved the entire afternoon of him driving Mr. Norton culminates with him being expelled from school, a most important point in his life indeed. The last time violence shows up in a major way in the first eleven chapters is the protagonist’s fight with Lucius Brockway, “I moved forward…was caved in.” pg. 226. Soon after this fight Lucius causes a boiler to blow up in front of the protagonist, causing him massive injuries. We get the idea that the injuries damage his brain, making it so that he has to reinvent himself-another turning point in his life.

3. “I had never seen…join in a street fight.” pg. 158-159

The protagonist goes from the rural south to the very urban New York City and like anyone who comes from a small town and goes to a big city he’s confused and bewildered by his surroundings. The protagonist’s entire life is like that, everywhere he goes there’s going to be that sense of uncertainty, not know what’s coming next and not having the power to control his direction-just like someone lost in a big city.

4. I think I lost a bit of innocence when I was 7. When I was younger I lived in Manchester and it happened to work out that I was invariably the poorest kid in any of my classes. I never really noticed this until the winter of second grade. It was right before recess and classmate’s mother, who had come in to volunteer or something, noticed that I was only putting on thin cotton gloves even though it was December. She asked me-“Why don’t you put on thicker gloves?”. I answered, “I don’t have any”, meaning that I didn’t have any with me at the time, I had warm mittens and gloves at home but I’d forgotten to bring them that day. Well, the next day the lady showed up with a package wrapped like a Christmas present, in it was a pair of nice, warm gloves. She said it was an early Christmas gift from “people who cared”. I was so embarrassed. I suddenly realized/remembered a bunch of other little things that had happened in the past where people had given me things because they though I was poor. I thanked the lady and after she left I put the gloves in my locker and I never wore them.

Katina T said...

1.)Fate/Destiny Motif
Pg.16 “Live with your head…or bust wide open.”
Pg.43-44 “So you see young man…you are my fate.”
Pg.59-60 “That’s just about my life…puts the iron back in me.”
Pg.193-194 “What had he done…had he been hurt and humiliated.”
Pg.223 “My face stung as…I had not known of their existence.”

2.) Trying to develop his identity in his environment, the motif of fate is very important to relating to the Invisible Man’s struggle. A person’s fate is defined as something that unavoidably befalls a person. Fate is mentioned several times that are key to figuring out the Protagonist’s identity. The instance where it grabs my attention the most is when the Invisible Man is talking with Mr. Norton and the vet at the Golden Day. The vet explains “He believes in you…Your man and your destiny.”(Pg.95) The Protagonist is used as nothing but a tool at first. He is supposedly the fate of Mr. Norton, but what is his own fate? The Invisible Man has put his best efforts to please Mr. Norton, that he doesn’t even realize that he is an “automaton”. He believes in what the people of higher power tell him to believe. He doesn’t fully understand that he has been acting like a robot until he reads the letters that Bledsoe has sent out to job possibilities. After this, he was done being everyone else’s fate. It was time that he found his own fate. Perhaps this will lead the Invisible Man to follow his grandfather’s advice. On his deathbed, his grandfather says “I never told you but our life…they vomit or bust wide open.”(Pg.16) I think his grandfather was trying to explain that the Protagonist should weaken the powerful people by making himself seem underestimated or maybe even “invisible”. If he is viewed as a small part of a large scheme, he will not look like a threat. I don’t think he comprehends this advice until he reads those letters. He finally gets that he has been betrayed. It’s as though a switch has been turned on, and he is done with “being someone’s fate” and is starting to search for his own. In conclusion, fate is the motif that links the relationship between the Protagonist’s struggle with his environment and developing his identity.

3.) Pg.230
“But seemed to sink to the center of a lake of heavy water and pause, transfixed and numb with the sense he had lost irrevocably an important victory.”
This line in the story really struck me as a perfect way to describe the Invisible Man’s struggle. After being let down, time and time again, by many people, he begins to express a loss of hope in the environment around him.

4.) I would like to think that not one person at Gloucester High School is completely invisible. Yes, there are some students that I will pass by in the hallways, and I will have no clue who they are. But even though I don't know them, there are characteristics in everyone that make them visible. There are traits that anyone can possess to gain the attention of others. In some cases, people keep these characteristics to themselves, until they totally surprise you later on. Maybe that could lead to a loss of innocence on your views of them? Someone can act one way to you, but act extremely different to the next person they talk to. So the people I walk past in the hallways could be strangers to me, but they are not invisible to the students in their next class. I think invisibility is all based on your perspective of a person, and how they want to be perceived in your eyes. If a person wants to be invisible, then they can easily fly beneath the radar, and if they want to be noticed, than they also can be put under the limelight.

Marisa D. said...
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Marisa D. said...

1. Oratory- Truebloods Story on pages 52-76

Power- When the protagonist attacks the white man after he calls the narrator a derogatory name, page 4

Colors- In the paint factory how the optic white paint can only be created by using black paint pg 217

Violence- during the battle royal scene pg 22-23

Dreams- the dream when the narrator is on weed pgs 9-12

2. I think the motif that best reveals the relationship between the protagonists’ developing identity and his environment would be color. Color seems to play a huge part in how the protagonist views the world and the people in it. In his eye the darker the color of your skin the more power you have. The same goes for the lightest color of skin. In his world there is either black or white. There is no in between or gray space. Although it is never mentioned in the book I feel as though if the protagonist did classify himself, he would probably be in the gray space. The protagonist feels because he is not a power color that he doesn’t really have a place in the world. He feels like he’s on the outside of a glass box looking in. The protagonist uses color to try and explain why people are the way they are even if that isn’t the real reason. He uses it so that he can understand why people are acting the way that they are. Trueblood is very dark and has a lot of power according to the protagonist. Mr. Norton who is the white Trustee is very, very pale has a lot of money and power. The protagonist also uses color to try and mask how we see the people in his world. If we only see them by color then we only see the outside and never learn about what the person did to get to where they are today. I mean think about it, the protagonist wants you to see everything in black and white. There is no gray which ultimately means that there is no variety, everyone is basically the same in his world, and the only difference is that color means power.
3. Image that stuck out to you the most
“[F]or God’s sake, learn to look beneath the surface…. And remember, you don’t have to be a complete fool in order to succeed. Play the game, but don’t believe in it—that much you owe yourself…. Play the game, but play it your own way—part of the time at least. Play the game, but raise the ante….Learn how it operates, learn how you operate….You might even beat the game….” (pages 151-152)

4. In Gloucester, there are certain people who are invisible, people who you see every day but never actually see them for who they are. Invisibility to me means that you are not “seen” because of the color of your skin, where you are from, or what you look like or what you do for a career. The people who are invisible in Gloucester are the people who take care of our city. I’m not talking about our mayor or city council members or the school committee. Did you ever stop to thank the person who collects your trash every week? Those people are invisible; they aren’t ever recognized for what they do even though what they do makes our city clean. You barely ever notice them but they continue to do their jobs. You walk right by them and never see them.

James said...
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Mr. J. Cook said...

This is where you put the post-session #1 work.

Bring the pre-session #2 work to class on Monday, July 20.

all the best,
Mr. James Cook

Megan Keegan said...

Megan K.

1. Motif: Violence
p. 4-“ I pulled his chin down sharp upon the crown of my head, butting him as I had seen the West Indians do, and I felt his flesh tear and the blood gush out, and I yelled, “Apologize! Apologize!”
p. 20- “Chairs went crashing, drinks were spilt, as they ran laughing and howling after her. They caught her just as she reached a door, raised her from the floor, and tossed her as college boys are tossed at a hazing, and above her red, fixed smiling lips I saw the terror and disgust in her eyes, almost like my own terror and that which I saw in some of the other boys.”
p. 22-28-“Blows pounded me from all sides while I struck out as best I could. So many blows landed upon me that I wondered if I were not the only blindfolded fighter in the ring, or if the man called Jackson hadn’t succeeded in getting me after all.”
p. 27- “I lunged for a yellow coin lying on the blue design of the carpet, touching it and sending a surprised shriek to join those around me…A hot, violent force tore through my body, shaking me like wet rat.”
p.84-“I watched the spot as though compelled, just beneath the lower rib and above the hip-bone, as Sylvester measured carefully with his toe and kicked as though he were punting a football.”

2. Violence is an important motif when looking at the relationship between the protagonist’s environment and his developing identity. From the very beginning (or the end, whichever the prologue is supposed to be) it is evident that the Invisible Man is confused and unhappy, which leads him to become violent. Simply because a man called him a name when they bumped into each other, I.M. decides it appropriate to beat the man almost to the point of death. Not only is it uncalled for, but it demonstrates extreme lack of control. The protagonist sees a lot of unfair things going on around him, most of which he doesn’t see fit to intrude or try to stop. By being around violence and seeing how it can affect a person, I.M. is learning to appreciate both sides of a fight. He relates to the person being hurt because it’s been him before. But he can also see the power being shown by the person starting the violence. He knows what it feels like to want to have control, to have power. Possibly the most important spot of violence that the Invisible Man sees is at the Golden Day with Supercargo and Mr. Norton. When Supercargo is attacked, the I.M. could care less. He can see the dislike people obviously have for him. But when Mr. Norton is put in danger, the world stops for him. “‘He’s only a man. Remember that. He’s only a man!’ I wanted to tell him that Mr. Norton was much more than that…” His view on what’s wrong and right changes because of who it is concerning. In a way, he doesn’t really have any feelings of morality when it is regarding the black man, but since Mr. Norton is white and something bad is happening to him it seems a bigger problem. Violence is different in the Invisible Man’s opinion depending on who it is with reference to, which results in his identity being shaped the way it is.

3. p. 194-“I sat on the bed…I felt numb and I was laughing.” This particular quote struck me because you can see the struggle to try and figure out how it is the protagonist should react to the situation. By laughing, he can postpone a struggle guaranteed to come soon.

4. Playing the game sometimes seems to draw up the question, where is the line? Where is the line that tells you what’s right from what’s wrong? Sometimes in order to “play the game” and get what you want, you loose your sense of morality. Morality is a difficult thing to loose; it’s hard to decide what’s right from wrong without it. Some people are more willing to give this up and cross the line then others. If you do play the game however, there is much to gain if you’re willing to compromise your principles. If somehow you can figure out how to play the game while keeping your integrity, you will achieve the maximum benefits

Francesco P said...

It won't let me post the whole thing at once so i'll send it in two?

Frankie P

1. Vision/Blindness Motif
pg 73. "His blindness is his chief Asset"
pg 103 Barbee's blindness/ vision he produces
pg 110 illusions that media can create/ skewed visibility of truth
pg 126 The searching eyes of Wall street
pg 140 Ambition can be blinding

2. The protagonist's perception of reality and how the world around him manifests itself within that perspective is pivotal to the development of his authentic identity. What many individuals don't hesitate from echoing is that the reality of life is based on how one perceives it, rather than how it tangibly exists. This concept applies immensely to the man/environment struggle as the protagonist initially lacks the ability to consider alternate possibilities for individual’s actions and he tends to rather, assume they are directing him with hostility. In the scene where he's ordering breakfast, he instantly assumes the counterman is mocking his southern origins when he recommends a breakfast, and to spite him he orders something entirely different. Without his conscious effort to perceive things outside his box of speculations, he's left blind. Another significant scene that illustrates his inability to consider situations beyond his original intentions is when he meets Mr. Emmerson's son. The protagonist's motive upon arriving at Mr. Emmerson's office was to satisfy his last hope at attaining a job. Mr. Emmerson's dismissal of his request was enough to blind him from the piece of insight that he attempted to provide. "Do you believe that two people, two strangers who have never seen one another before can speak with utter frankness and sincerity?" was the son's attempt at giving the protagonist something more than a job. This deviation from his original motives shatters his veneer of formality, and prevents him from seeing anything more than a cruel man who stands in his way of attaining an occupation. Like Mr. Emerson son had said earlier, "Ambition is a powerful force, but sometimes it can be blinding." Blinding it is, for with the ambition of attaining a job, to return to the school, and to exemplify his standing as an honorable and dignified member of the black community, he could not see the more genuine and worthy values that life can provide.

Francesco P said...

3. (I'm going to satisfy my desire to write the entire quote) Chapter 7, pg 118. "He winked. His eyes twinkled, "All right, forget what i've said. But for God's sake, learn to look beneath the surface," he said. "Come out of the fog, young man. And remember you don't have to be a complete fool in order to succeed. Play the game, but don't believe in it - That much you owe yourself. Even if it lands you in a strait jacket or a padded cel. Play the game, but play it your own way - part of the time at least. Play the game, but raise the ante, my boy. Learn how it operates, learn how you operate - I wish i had time to tell you only a fragment...You're hidden right out in the open - that is, you would be if you only realized it. They wouldn't see you because they don't expect you to know anything, since they believe they've taken care of that. "

Although this quote may not portray a visual image as striking as one may anticipate, I think it remarkably depicts the conflict that the protagonists has at his core. It's the fact that he's naively allowing himself to be manipulated. He sees that world for what it claims to be, with all it's predispositions, romanticized ideals, and dignified virtues. The appearance of what things may resemble rather than what they truly are, beneath their deceitful veneer. This quote articulately explains the solution to his obstacle, but it can only be understood if you have the experience to confirm the principle. It's meaningless to tell a man to change his perspective by words, without the background and insight to make the words intelligibly concrete.

4. In a sense, life truly is a game. A game where some things are consistent, and dependable, and others are sporadic, unpredictable and shocking. The matter is, like any game, you can get ahead if you know how to play. The problem with this perspective on life, is that by viewing life as a game, you consciously drop out a certain type of reality. You lose an innocence you had in the world. The sense of wonder that accompanied invention, immensity, and diversity, comes to be viewed as a predictability of life. You begin to see things for their worth and value to you, rather than the idea and concept of them as wholes. Indeed, you do gain momentum in being successful and productive in the world, but you lose much of your sincerity and authenticity. Without that, you slowly lose your humanity, and become further and further incorporated into the mechanistic reality that embodies the modern world.

Molly A said...
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Molly A said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Molly A said...

Molly A
(I also have to leave two)

1) Music
Page 12 “Then somehow I came out of it, ascending hastily from this underworld of sound to hear Louis Armstrong innocently asking, what did I do to be so black and blue?”
Page 125 “All is terror and turmoil, a moan and a sighing. Until, like a clap of thunder, I hear Dr. Bledsoe’s voice ring out whip-like with authority, a song of hope.”
Page 134 “Then the orchestra played excerpts from Dvořák’s New World Symphony and I kept hearing ‘Swing Low, Sweet Chariot’ resounding through its dominant theme- my mother’s and grandfather’s favorite spiritual. It was more than I could stand…”
Page 173 “Close to the curb ahead I saw a man pushing a cart piled high with blue rolls of paper and heard him singing in a clear ringing voice. It was a blues, and I walked along behind him remembering the times I has heard such singing at home. It seemed that here some memories slipped around my life at the campus and went far back to things I had long ago shut out of my mind. There was no escaping such reminders. “
Page 235 “But now the music became a distinct wail of female pain. I opened my eyes. Glass and metal floated above me.”

2) Music played an extremely influential role in the protagonist’s life. In moments where he felt most lost or invisible, it seemed to provide him with a sense of home or identity. To him, it represented a number of things; exploration, power, and self understanding. All of which are examples of emotions that music inflicted upon him. When his surroundings threw him curveballs or setbacks, it was a source of guidance. On page 241 it says, “Yes, I could not bring myself… an old identity and I shook my head” It was music that brought him to realize who he was. He could not remember his mother’s name, or his own name. He could, however, recall the lyrics of a childhood song, and allow it to show him exactly who he was. It is instances such as this, in the main bends of his life, where he must define himself. That is where music becomes so important. The protagonist got a sense of exploration as well, from Louis Armstrong’s Black and Blue. (Pg.9) “I found myself hearing not only in time, but in space as well. I not only entered the music but descended”. It sent him plunging into depths of his mind and allowed him to experience realistic senses that were made up in his head. Music, although accompanied by a certain drug, allowed him to encounter a new world he himself had created, one that he heard beyond the lyrics of a song. It showed him something that, under any other circumstances, would be impossible to see. On page 125, the quote “They stand, they calm, and with him they sing out against the tottering of their giant. Sing out their long black songs of blood and bones” represents power. This particular quote was taken from the sermon, which left the protagonist filled with a variety of emotions. He found a particular interest in the fact that Dr. Bledsoe’s singing had such power over his surroundings. It was this kind of power, and visibility, that he strived to achieve throughout most of the book. Here, music provides inspiration, to work to become exactly who he wants to be. One can either allow or deny music to be an essential part in their life. Their characteristics and traits determine where music may stand. For those such as the protagonist, it is extremely important. It shapes their life, sends them in certain directions, and assists in advancing them onto future experiences.

Molly A said...

3) Page 27
“I lunged for the yellow coin…my nerves jangled, writhed. “
To me, the words that the author chose created not only an image, but a feeling as well. It was in this instance of the story, where I felt most able to relate to the actual sensations that the protagonist was feeling. The words that were used to describe the situation were so thorough and realistic, that I felt like I was present in the same room, feeling the same electric sensations as the protagonist.

4.) There are people in Gloucester, and everywhere else in the world, who live their lives doing things to aid the people and places around them. They are the people who clean streets and beaches voluntarily, or find and design new ways to improve their towns. They accomplish the things that are “expected” to be done, that are often unaccredited in return. Without the tasks that they work hard to complete each day, people and their home towns would be lost. The lack of credit they receive makes them invisible, yet completely essential. That observation however, could simply be the teenage perspective. Considering we have yet to personally understand the efforts that go into our cities, its hard to get a clear view of the credit that such volunteers receive. If not, I believe they deserve the credit that we give to our firefighters and police officers. The volunteers provide us with the same amount of protection, only in a different way.

Nick B said...

1. Loss of Innocence

• Pg. 24: The narrator goes to the event expecting a dignified and professional gathering to which he would meticulously recite his speech, but upon his arrival it quickly becomes apparent that he had the wrong idea. When he is first asked to take part in the boxing match with his schoolmates he believes that it is just harmless entertainment, and therefore agrees, but soon he discovers that that assumption was far from the truth. Due to his naivety he blindly walks into a dangerous and out-of-control situation without the least bit of caution.
• Pg. 124: “Why, the dumbest black bastard in the cotton patch knows that the only way to please a white man is to tell him a lie!” Dr. Bledsoe says this to the narrator this after the Trueblood/Golden Day fiasco. The entire situation would have been averted if the narrator had known the ugly truth about how to go about dealing with white people, at least according to Bledsoe.
• Pg. 167: “I say former because he shall never, under any circumstances, be enrolled as a student here again”. Dr. Bledsoe wrote this in his letter to Mr. Emerson, and, presumably, to the other 6 prominent white men. The narrator anchored his last shreds of hope on the promise of a respectable job in New York City. He wasted time, money, and energy working towards, dreaming of, and worrying about the jobs that were never a possibility. If he had had a little more experience in the real world he might have seen through Bledsoe’s sudden change of heart and found the ruthless, deceitful core.
• Pg. 174 and Pg. 179: “Now get this straight, this is a busy department and I don’t have time to repeat things, you have to follow instructions and you’re going to be doing things you don’t understand, so get your orders the first time and get them right! I won’t have time to stop and explain everything. You have to catch on by doing exactly what I tell you. You got that?” Kimbro says this to the narrator when he first starts at Liberty Paints. Later, after he messes the paint up, Kimbro reiterates his original statements with “And if you don’t know what to do, ask somebody.” The narrator’s original impression from Kimbro was to improvise and adapt, and to not, at any cost, ask stupid questions. Later, once he makes a mistake because of not asking questions, Kimbro tells him to just ask. The narrator’s innocence blinded him to the fact that though Kimbro would complain about questions, he would complain about pretty much anything, and it would be better to ask than to make a mistake.
• Pg. 215-216: “And remember, you’ll be adequately compensated for your experience. We follow a policy of enlightened humanitarianism; all our employees are automatically insured. You have only to sign a few papers…. We require an affidavit releasing the company of responsibility.” The director of Liberty Paints says this to the narrator following his accident. He presents it as some gracious favor the company is doing for the narrator, and of course the narrator believes it. In the real world companies don’t just give you money to be nice, especially if you just started that day, aren’t from around there, and cost them dearly in damages. The narrator never even considered the underlying theme of the compensation, an affidavit releasing the company of responsibility. The director was just covering his tracks and scamming the narrator into losing any chance of suing the company later on in life, especially if complications arose from the accident.

Nick B said...

2. The violence and unpredictability of the protagonist’s environment contributed, through the motif of loss of innocence, to the ephemeral quality of his existence. When he went to the hotel to give his speech he was expecting to walk in there as a bright, educated young man ready to contribute to his community. When he arrived, however, he discovered that the prominent white men in his community, the bankers and lawyers and doctors, everyone he aspired to impress, were much less concerned with his carefully practiced speech than they were with a battle royal and a naked girl. The narrator says, on first learning of the fight, “And besides, I suspected that fighting a battle royal might detract from the dignity of my speech.” He vaguely contemplated that maybe the little bout might diminish the respect his speech would generate. That is how completely unsuspecting he was of how bad the circumstances were soon going to become. By the time they called him to give his speech his body could barely manage it. But despite the unsuspected difficulties preceding his speech, he still managed to convince himself to feel good about being awarded the scholarship and the briefcase. This shows that, though his innocence was certainly tarnished, it wasn’t about to throw in the towel yet, and that it would take quite a bit of harshness to open his eyes to the real world.
This harshness most definitely came throughout the first half of the book. We can see that simply by comparing his reaction to that first loss of innocence to one later in the book. The protagonist reads this in the letter from Dr. Bledsoe to Mr. Emerson “I say former because he shall never, under any circumstances, be enrolled as a student here again,” on page 167. This time, after seeing another shocking example of the cruelty of the real world, the narrator reacts much differently. He grows terribly angry and violent, swearing that he will kill Dr. Bledsoe himself. This is very different than how we saw him react to just as shocking a situation not long before.
The discrepancy between these two reactions is quite simply due to his slow, but definite, loss of innocence. Though he is still naïve enough to walk into deception yet again when he believes Dr. Bledsoe, the difference is how quick he is to jump to extreme anger and violence, rather than his previous method of turning the other cheek and telling himself it wasn’t that bad. He was abused both physically and psychologically by the shocking losses of innocence he experienced repeatedly during the novel, and the consequences of that abuse are quite evident in his reactions. The protagonist’s environment, through repeated losses of innocence, slowly but surely molded his developing identity into a shell of a man whose feelings of insubstantiality would eventually control his life.

Nick B said...

3. Pg. 23: “It was mad… the other boys.” This excerpt really struck me as the most graphic (in a descriptive, not inappropriate way) description anywhere in the first half of the book. Though the paragraph itself wouldn’t be considered a key point in the book, the imagery he uses made it jump off the page towards me. During this scene the protagonist is quickly learning that his perfectly executed life up until that point has not prepared him for the real world, and that nothing is what he expected. While trying to cope with this reality, it is both beneficial and detrimental for him to see the animalistic nature of his idols, as well as the fear so much like his that the girl is feeling. It’s good for him to see that he isn’t the only naïve and bullied person in his world, though it hurts that he has to see it in such a brutal display of drunken foolishness. Though this scene was not key in the plot of the story, its exquisite imagery and the close relation the narrator felt towards it made it a prime example of his struggle to cope with both his growing identity and the unfolding reality of the world around him.

4. One day, while at my Grammy’s house in New Hampshire, I suddenly realized that she was just as human as the rest of us. My entire life up to that point, which was when I was about 10, I had seen my Grammy as a wholly perfect person. I never saw a single flaw or bad trait in her, only the good. It wasn’t any particular event or action that triggered this realization, perhaps it was just maturity, but it definitely came as a shock. Though I still love her very much and know that she is a very good person, I now see her flaws just like I would see anybody else’s. This loss of innocence spread to the rest of my extended family, with whom I also didn’t see clearly. Now I see when one of my relatives snaps, crabs, insults, or makes a mistake. Though this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as its human nature to act in those ways sometimes, and it’s good to be able to see that, it is a drastic difference from my mentally sheltered youth. At this specific point in my life, and unspecific cause triggered the realization that everybody, even those that I love, is human, and therefore all have their flaws.

Meredith S said...

Meredith S.
1. The motif I followed is the color red.
“The room went red as I fell.” (Page 25)
“I looked at the floor, a red mist of anguish before my eyes.” (Page 58)
“… here in the hereness of the night not yet lighted by the moon that looms blood-red behind the chapel…” (Page 110)
“…the glow of the big pot-bellied stove now turned cherry-red with its glowing…” (Page 125)
2. The motif of public speaking reveals the narrator’s struggle to express himself to his environment. The situation in which the narrator finds himself making a speech introduces the reader to the problem he has with asserting his emotions and ideas. He believed that making the speech was the right thing to do, even though the men in the room were mocking him. His subconscious reaction to being made fun of was to replace the words “social responsibility” in his speech with “social equality.” He knew that saying that would get him in trouble. The fact that he said it anyway, however unintentional, demonstrates how he has the desire for a sense of fairness where it is absent in his environment. This one poor word choice gives insight into the narrator’s inability to assert himself correctly.
When the narrator observes other people giving speeches, he seems to covet their ability. When he is attending the speech given by Barbee, he makes some very particular remarks. The narrator says, “He seemed completely composed, hidden behind his black-lensed glasses, only his mobile features gesturing his vocal drama.” He picks up on the way Barbee is able to speak in a normal tone while still conveying his emotion to the audience. When the narrator was giving his own speech, one aspect that he struggles with the most is maintaining a stable volume while talking.
The way in which Barbee handles emotion also intrigues the narrator. When Barbee cries while delivering his speech, the narrator is fascinated by the way he is able to continue seamlessly back into his talk. While giving his own speech, the narrator’s struggle to swallow the blood in his mouth presents him with a difficult challenge. Barbee is able to pause for a necessary moment and still have a successful speech, but the narrator is not the same way. Although he does not directly say it, he is in some way envious of the manner in which Barbee can express himself so easily without struggle The differences that the narrator observes between his own speaking skills and the skills of others shows that although he desperately wants to express himself effectively to his environment, he is unable to do so.

Meredith S said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Meredith S said...

3. The image I chose is located on pages 193-194: “In the seat in front of me…for what had he been hurt and humiliated?” This is the most vivid image that demonstrates how the narrator is struggling against his surroundings. It reveals that he finds himself defenseless against the more powerful forces in his environment. After discovering the true content of Bledsoe’s letters, he is able to sympathize with the humiliated Robin. He wonders why Robin’s fate is now being mocked in a song. This suggests that the narrator fears his environment will choose the same fate for him, or that it has already.
4. No one in Gloucester, or in the entire world even, is invisible. I think that invisibility is a state of mind that can exist only to oneself. No matter how much a person feels that they are unnoticed to their surroundings, others still perceive them and create their own idea of who they are based on their observations of the person’s appearance, personality, characteristics, etc. Of course, these perceptions are not always accurate to the reality of who the person really is, but they have an impact on people nevertheless (even if only for a brief moment). Invisibility is an internal condition because it can only occur when someone chooses – consciously or subconsciously – to dismiss the fact that others do perceive them. By doing this they believe themselves to have an invisible existence. I think the state of being “invisible” can be related to the feeling of being underappreciated, or simply unappreciated. To feel underappreciated is to feel that your actions and good efforts are going unnoticed by the people you are aiming to please or impress. To be invisible is similar because it is, in my own personal understanding, to feel that your existence is going unnoticed by the people you strive the most to make it known to.

B Shay said...

1. Underground
Page 58 – “it goes up a dark tunnel”
Page 75 – “sprinkled him with quicklime and rolled him away in a barrow”
Page 131 – “Then down into the earth: back to the ancient dust: back to the cold black clay…mother…of us all”
Page 162 – “from the street below came the sound of traffic, and the larger sound of the subway”
Page 207 – “It was a deep basement. Three levels underground”

Other thing’s to mention were, his basement apartment in the prologue, earthworms and the earth, the golden day, and “mire and darkness”.

2. From my experience of reading part of Invisible Man, I feel that the Motif “Underground” plays a major role in the formation of our character. I have come across many passages that mention underground in someway, and all seem to be some pivotal moment in the characters life. For example the golden day is called a dark underground area many times. When the main character if forced to enter this building, his life is changed forever. I don’t know if the author planned this into the book, but I’m coming out with a lot of really good evidence that eh did. The protagonist was in the basement when he was caught in an explosion, which pretty much reset his goals in life. The one that really set’s it for me is him in his basement apartment in the prologue. The prologue seems to be a point in the main character’s life where he’s given up on everything, and possibly gone crazy? (I hope not). Just the fact that he lives in a basement really set’s the tone for the rest of the story for me. I can’t wait to see how this play’s out.
3. The vet had been right: For me this was not a city of realities, but of dreams;……..bombardment of impressions.” I think this is a good example of the main character trying to decipher realities from dreams. But is he succeeding?
4. No I don’t feel that anyone or anything is invisible unless it can’t be seen. Sure you might think groups in GHS such as “The Goth’s” are invisible because they are loners, they don’t look like the rest of us, and usually don’t participate. But that’s not the way I view it, I see it more of a sight thing with your eyes. Even though we tend to ignore some groups, they still have effect on us because we know that they are there. The main character may think he is invisible, people may look away from him, but he is not entirely. If he just put any effort into being seen then he will revert to the visible, people will begin to see him. That goes with the minorities in GHS, if the put effort into being seen and being active with eh community then they people won’t think of the invisible. I’m starting to see this with the main character in “Invisible Man”. He knows that he is invisible, so he is now talking to groups of people, trying to get their attention and to be seen.

Andrew Ryan said...

Andrew R.
AP English
Post-Session Work

1) The motif that I tracked was light and dark. On page 6 the protagonist says this quote when referring to his home: “My hole is warm and full of light. Yes, full of light.” Also on page 6 I found my next quote: “Perhaps you’ll think it strange that an invisible man should need light, desire light, love light. But maybe it is exactly because I am invisible.” He says this when talking about how the world moves like a boomerang and that he has been hit so many times that he can see the darkness of lightness. On page 6 the protagonist says “Light confirms my reality, gives birth to my form.” He says this when talking about his invisibility and how he needs light to allow him to see himself. On page 7 he says “Without light I am not only invisible, but formless as well; and to be unaware of one’s form is to live a death.” The protagonist says this after he tells the reader how a beautiful girl once told him of a nightmare she had where she was in a dark room and she turned into “bilious jelly”. On page 7 the protagonist says “The truth is the light and light is the truth.” He says this when talking about his room that contains 1,369 lights and how people need light to live.
2) The motif of light and dark that shows up throughout the book Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison plays a significant role in the relationship between the protagonist's environment and his developing identity because it doesn’t matter how hard he tries to get in the light his environment keeps him in the dark. In the beginning of the book the protagonist is always trying to do the right thing by pleasing his superiors which in his case are Dr. Bledsoe, Mr. Norton and the trustees. He tries to please these people to gain respect from them because he wishes to be accepted by these people and to be brought into their “inner circle”. The protagonist wants to be something in his lifetime, he wants to be remembered and admired like the Founder, and Booker T. Washington. Sadly the truth is he’s black, and at this point in history black people have no power or authority. This truth is also the light that the protagonist can not see, he thinks he can anything he wants to be but his environment keeps suppressing his dreams in order to keep him in the dark.
The protagonist is a naïve character because as he says “All my life I had been looking for something, and everywhere I turned someone tried to tell me what it was. I accepted their answers too, though they were often in contradiction and even self-contradictory.” In the beginning of the book he is blissfully unaware of the true evil nature inside people and is blind to the hatred that is directed at him. The protagonist is constantly shot down by his environment and in the first case it is when he has to give his speech at a boxing match where instead of giving the speech he has to fight other black men in front of the community. He describes the incident as “…complete anarchy. Everybody fought everybody else. No group fought together for long.” This was not only degrading to the protagonist but it showed him the utter hatred that the white community had towards the blacks. The protagonist can see now with a little more clarity that life is not always fair and that things don’t always appear as how they seem. The protagonist in the beginning does whatever people ask him to because he wants to be respected, but by doing this he remains in the dark, not

Andrew Ryan said...

Andrew R.

knowing his true identity. His identity is being shaped by what his community tells him it should be.
When the protagonist says “…I now can see the darkness of lightness” he refers to the many people that he believed in and respected who have shown him a mean side, including Dr. Bledsoe. The protagonist idolized Dr. Bledsoe for being a black man with power, and he was curious how he gained such a high rank in society. When the protagonist was criticized by Bledsoe for taking Mr. Norton to the Golden Day and to see Trueblood, his opinion towards him changed when Bledsoe called him a “nigger”. Dr. Bledsoe after assuming that the protagonist was lying to him about the incident said “Nigger, this isn’t the time to lie. I’m no white man. Tell me the truth!” Bledsoe goes on to further expel him from the school through letters that were given to all the trustees. The protagonist learns from his experiences thus fare that he can not simply trust somebody blindly and that people are not one dimensional. He matures throughout the book by not just hearing one opinion on racism; instead he gathers information from all around him to form his own opinions which in turn shape his identity. The Protagonist even listens to Ras the Exhorter and takes in his message which is to revolt against the white community. The black people in his community have opened his eyes to the light, meaning they have given him an identity by showing him what it truly means to be a black man. Whereas the white people in his community have kept him in the dark.
3) pg 194 “Suddenly I lay shaking…By slow degrees.”
4) Last year I discovered another side to my coach that I had never seen before that both shocked me and enraged me. My coach who I have known since third grade has only shown his light-hearted side to me and nothing else. But last year I was unfortunate enough to see a greedy and angry side to him. He became enraged when he heard that I wanted to race in a state meet because it would jeopardize the chance of our relay team winning a state relay championship. He talked to me in such a way that I became mystified; I had never been talked to this way especially from a man who I had believed in and who I acknowledged as a great coach. It struck me odd that a grown man could speak to me in such an immature way, and this is because I always thought older men were mature and understanding. I realize now that this is not always the case and that older men can be just as greedy and immature as anyone. But I also learned that I had been naïve to think that all older men were mature and wise.

Nadine B said...

Nadine B

1. Motif: Invisibility
Page 3 “I am invisible, understand, simply because people refuse to see me.”
Page 15 “But first I had to discover that I am an invisible man!”
Page 94 “He’s invisible, a walking personification of the Negative, the most perfect achievement of your dream sir! The mechanical man!”
Page 143 “You’re nobody son. You don’t exist – can’t you see that?”
Page 168 “Still I felt that even when they were polite they hardly saw me…”

2. Motif Essay: Invisibility
The protagonist’s “invisibility” shows how his environment influenced his developing identity. Throughout the beginning of the book, the protagonist’s environment treats him as an invisible man by ignoring and rejecting him. The invisible man at first sees himself as invisible because he is being treated so. He makes himself believe that no one can see him because they do not want to see him, thus making him invisible. “I am invisible, understand, simply because people refuse to see me.” The protagonist felt as though his environment and the people within it were against him, so he made himself invisible by detaching himself from society. His invisibility kept going and still he did not see how terrible of a thing it was.
The protagonist at first did not seem to mind being invisible and would obey everything he was told by a white man. People such as Dr. Bledsoe would tell him how awful it was that he was being treated as an invisible person and how people were truly seeing him. “You’re nobody son. You don’t exist – can’t you see that?” The protagonist kept his invisibility up even when he left his college for New York. When he found out about the letters from Dr. Bledsoe he was very angry and for a few moments forgot about his invisibility and tried standing up for himself. Although the protagonist used violence to try and be powerful he was still doing something for himself besides doing nothing and remaining invisible.
When the explosion at the paint factory happened, the protagonist was taken to the factory’s hospital were he was examined and treated. The doctors would discuss things in front of him such as, “Suppose it were a New Englander with a Harvard background?” The discussions that the doctors and nurses had was referring to his “invisibility,” as the protagonist thought. The protagonist could not remember anything after the accident and treatment at the factory. He could not remember his name or his mother’s name. Since he had forgotten everything he was let out into the world without knowing who he was. This was the start to his new identity were he would no longer be invisible.

3. Image: The protagonists struggle between self and environment.
He is comparing himself to a hibernating bear because he feels as though he is in hibernation because the environment around him and the people in it do not see him. He feels as though his invisibility is like a state of hibernation because he is shut up in his hole where no one can communicate with him or see him.
Page 6 “And remember, a bear retires to his hole for the winter and lives until spring;…….Call me Jack-the-Bear, for I am in a state of hibernation.”

4. Personal Reflection: Invisibility
I am invisible within my own family. Ever since this summer started I have not been acknowledged by my parents at all. I knew that this would happen as soon as I heard we were going to have two foreign exchange students, from Spain, stay with us this summer. Theses two new Spanish girls have taken over my family and have pushed me to the side. My parents act as though they are the best thing that could have happened to us. But in the process of getting to know them, they have completely forgotten about me. I know that once this summer is over and the girls are gone, I will be remembered once again. But until then, I will remain hidden and invisible.