Analysis of Major Characters in Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man: Brother Jack

In: English and Literature

Submitted By Wutwambi
Words 1382
Pages 6
Marriam Harrissa Mulonya
Miss Asante Mtenje
American Novel
26th June 2012
Analysis of major characters in Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man: Brother Jack
Brother Jack is our main contact with the Brotherhood and he is a mysterious character. He is a white man and he easily enters the narrator's life and offers him a ton of opportunities like money, a job, and the chance to represent his community. There are many strings attached to the benefits that the narrator accrues through working for the Brotherhood. Brother Jack demands that the narrator renounce his past, focus on the collective, and use abstract jargon and ideology in his speeches. Although he professes to be in favor of racial equality, when the Brotherhood shifts its aims, Brother Jack willingly sacrifices the Harlem community without thinking twice. His literal blindness is a metaphor for the flawed nature of his vision.
Ellison uses Brother Jack to point out the failure of abstract ideologies to address the real plight of African Americans and other victims of oppression. At first, Jack seems kind, compassionate, intelligent, and helpful, a real boon to the struggling narrator, to whom he gives money, a job, and seemingly a way to help his people fight against prejudice. But as the story progresses, it becomes clear that the narrator is just as invisible to Jack as he is to everyone else. Jack sees him not as a person but as a tool for the advancement of the Brotherhood’s goals. It eventually becomes clear to the narrator that Jack shares the same racial prejudices as the rest of white American society. After the Brotherhood’s focus changes, Jack abandons the black community without remorse.
The narrator’s discovery that Jack has a glass eye occurs as Jack enters into a fierce tirade on the aims of the Brotherhood. His literal blindness thus symbolizes how his unwavering commitment to the…...

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