The ending of the novel, while trying to imply hope as well as connect on a broader level, fell flat for me. Personally, I thought the mood was, in fact, defeated. After almost 600 pages of lolling the reader around from one different anecdote to another, all I felt had been accomplished was the stating of an opinion. I see why this opinion was relevant in it's time, however, the fact remains that at the end of all that rambling, the protagonist ends up in a hole. Literally, in a hole. That's not good symbolically or realistically, and definitely not hopeful.
While he doesn't plan on staying in the hole, it still does it's symbolic purpose and life doesn't look too much better outside of it. What I mean is that he closes with speaking of "infinite possibilities" (576) and tries to redeem the absolute desolation of his life by saying he's "shaking off the old skin and [leaving] it ..in the hole" (581), which seems progressive enough on the surface. However, the ideas behind it are not, because of the life he is going towards once he does leave. He says he must now approach life "as much through love as through hate" (580) and that he will from now on "approach it through division" (580). After a whole novel about the pitfalls of division, he has now decided that "all men are different and that all life is divided and that only in division is there true health" (576). I understand what he's trying to get at is that you have to take the good and the bad in life, ignore the Bledsoes and Brotherhoods of the world and still find good in it for yourself and through that you'll further whatever cause you're trying for. However, this comes across as inherently hypocritical after a whole novel about how division is basically the bane of his existence.
So, even though he may be coming up out of his little hiding spot of existential crises, what for? To wave this story in our face? I mean, he says he'll now not be either against society or try to conform to it, and basically says he'll have no direction in his life except to "tell [us] what was really happening when [our] eyes were looking through" (581). That does not come across as hopeful to me, personally. He's not done anything really except realize why everyone has wronged him, and now he's going to tell everyone else about it. This was disappointing to me, because I felt it made the entire novel into nothing more than an opinionated rant.
And about that last line, isn't it too late to try and universalize this?
Yet at the same time, it is hopeful because he is not giving up. He is still moving on with his life.
I think the ending of the novel was extremely defeated. Not only did he realize he was "an invisible man and it placed [him] in a hole" (page 572), but then he went on and on for another nine pages trying to make it sound more hopeful.....which I felt was completely pointless.
I really did not like this novel, and I feel like the ending just made me realize that even more. I don't feel like it came together enough, and that was enough to make me say it wasn't hopeful alone. I understand the symbolic use of the narrator being invisible, but the nice little story about how he met Mr. Norton and his "[coming] to ask his direction from the lost, the invisible" (page 577) just felt like it was way too overdone. I think the invisibility was played up too much for the way it came together in the end.
The epilogue also seemed like a lot of rambling that was supposed to come together but never did. As I said, I didn't really like this novel, but the ending really solidified that for me. I just can't go along with the narrator trying to make it seem like he learned from everything and it's still horrible, but that somehow it's all okay still. Ellison tries to make it seem hopeful I think, but it just felt less and less hopeful and more and more defeated.
I also don't remember another instance of the narrator breaking the fourth wall until the very last line. That didn't quite fit to me. Why go that way now when he didn't before? The whole novel really fell flat for me, especially after reading the hopeless epilogue that didn't make much sense to me.
I feel confident in my opinion that this novel is quite defeated and basically is relaying that you can try all you want, but eventually you'll just end up in a dark hole that symbolizes your life (hopes and dreams included), burning all of your stuff.
No, but seriously, I think that Ellison wrote a very long and detailed story that built up a lot but fell short when it came time to deliver. Not to say that his writing style was not good, I found he could be very eloquent at times, but to what end? The reader is pulled in by the prologue, believing that this character has been enlightened in some way (surely he has to live in the way he does, right?), and yet the moral of the story is “lie in a hole for an indefinite time and when you emerge, wander listlessly." He even generalizes this by saying "none of us seem to know who he is or where he's going" (577). And, for some reason, the way he separates himself from humanity, calling himself "invisible" and claiming to be able to "tell... what was really happening when [everyone else’s] eyes are looking through" (581) seems a superior claim that he hasn't quite earned. He was basically defeated by life (blaming heavily his surroundings) and ran away from the world.
I remember in the beginning he spoke about fighting back, and all throughout his speeches as an invisible man he spoke about revealing truth; "the truth is the light and the light is the truth" (7), his line about telling us what's really happening. But he has failed to tell us what this truth really is. He is a man without a cause, one who has been through many but has found corruption and disappointment in them all as well as life. He blames conformity and states that “diversity is the word” (577) and yet at the same time believes that “only in division is there true health” (576), implying a grouping of humanity. I mean, what?
I can see why this novel is used in literature classes because of it's heavy symbolism, historical relevance, and instances of an eloquent writing style, but I say this mainly so as not to trash the whole novel. It had it's moments, but overall leaves me dissapointed.
Your last sentence pretty much sums up how I feel. The novel definitely had some great, exciting ones (and also some terrible, boring ones), but the ending definitely left me disappointing. I hoped to see the narrator accomplish the goals he had hoped for earlier in the novel, but he simply falls in a hole and stays there. I wasn't expecting that it would end like that, either.
Like everyone else, I definitely think that Ellision dropped the ball in this story. The narrator's falling into a hole completely eviscerates the mood. From the beginning, I thought that the narrator would somehow escape his "invisibleness" and lead blacks to a better place in society. Aren't all stories supposed to end with the protagonist achieving his dreams and goals? That is not the case with this protagonist, however. As the novel has progressed, Ellison gives the reader an impression that the narrator will inspire change in society, but that impression is quickly destroyed during the later chapters. He becomes quickly overwhelmed by the immensity of the whole situation as a whole and cannot escape it.
I think that it is really disappointing that, instead of overcoming his situation, he falls into a hole (literally and figuratively) and just stays there for an indefinite amount of time. But, maybe that was Ellison's point. Perhaps, he was saying that, no matter how hard you try to change, either yourself or someone else, you will never succeed. If that was Ellision's point, then that is very disheartening.
When you first read the ending the mood feels defeated because throughout the novel everything has failed him- his education failed him, the brotherhood failed him, and he failed himself at certain points in time with ignorance. His world has crashed in around him. Yet you take a moment to breathe and reread the ending- its hopeful. Its hopeful because he knows from where he stands that now he can "only move ahead" (571). The destruction wasn't the end, it was the beginning. He now has the knowledge of who he truly is and moves on and is happy with his life. He is happy with his hole, and a "normal" person would think that that would be the opposite, but no two people think exactly alike. Where some find happiness, others cant. Most people would see the ending as defeated because the invisible man is introverted into his little hole, and the readers will continue to see defeat until they see the end through his eyes.
The mood sounds considerably hopeful compared to the rest of the novel. In the beginning of the novel, he seemed to be satisfied with how his life was, blindly following the old saying, "white is right", whether he knew it or not. He saw his future to be successful and bright. But when unexpected circumstances arose, he had to face reality, which is tough, brutal, and cold, but he did happen to find a few good people in that rough time, one of them being Mary. When he joined the Brotherhood, it seemed as if things had turned for the better for him, but to me, he was worse off than he was before. It was clear that he was being manipulated for their own goals. I knew that when he realized this, it would crush him. When he tried to take matters into his own hands, he noticed that he was STILL doing what "they" wanted. So at the end of the story, it seemed as if he wasn't entirely all there, meaning he may have lost a little of his sanity. But in the end, it still sounds hopeful because even though he's been put through hell and back, he is still trying to live, not for others, but for himself this time.
HulseyTCHS 12th AP Lit