ForumsDialogue is Action
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Psychological Criticism & IM
This was an idea that popped up for me while reading the Psychological Criticism Perusall reading that I wanted to talk about here. Did IM have a failure to build his identity? He has had a fair share of struggles with identity in his youth, but it doesn't seem like any of the 'symptoms' completely apply to him. Maybe he is 6 with a "nobody" type personality who would "rather be nobodys... or even be dead than to be a not-quite-somebody." Or maybe he did develop an identity- the Invisible Man. But, is that considered unhealthy? or even considered a developed identity at all?
This also just makes me curious about the book as a whole. Does IM just circle throughout identities through the entire book? Will he ever settle on an identity? I wonder if the IM that we were introduced to under all of those light bulbs with random acts of violence will even be IM's last identity?
This is a topic that I've been struggling to figure out now for the last couple of weeks. It seems as if IM wants to have a identity but he just can't. I feel like he's constantly surrounded by so much judgement and hatred that he adapts to his surroundings. I think it's quite clear that IM just wants to be successful and he believes that the only way to do that is please the people around him. But I've struggled to figure out if he is a man with many different identities or a man with no identities. Obviously IM sounds like he doesn't have a identity, but I feel like I've seen him rotate through several different identities in the first several chapters that we read. I'm hoping the answer will become more clear the further we read.
Throughout the book, IM understands that the intricacy of his internal identity is restricted by people's racism as well as by their more broad ideologies. The theme of identity in Invisible Man is a contention between self-reflection and the projection of others, as observed through IM's story: the anonymous narrator. His actual identity, he learns, is invisible to everyone around him. Only by intentionally isolating himself from society would he be able to wrestle with and come to understand himself.
I think being "Invisible Man" has become his identity. He definitely hated being invisible at first, but I think that he's coming to terms with it. I found that when (spoiler alert) Bledsoe expelled IM from the college, it was strange that IM didn't fight him very much. I think to an extent Bledsoe is invisible as well, and IM realizes he can be invisible and successful at the same time, which made him more open to remaining invisible.
@persephone I really like this idea. I think that part of the reason that IM accepted his expulsion so easily was that because he realized that Bledsoe was also invisible, and therefore was able to see IM where other people could not. I think this goes back to the prologue when IM mentioned how his "invisibility" was a strength, so when that invisibility was gone because Bledsoe was also invisible, then IM no longer had a key part of his identity.
@persephone I like this idea that you bring up. I too believe that his identity is the Invisible man. I agree with your spot in the text that you used to support this idea but I thought I would bring another one up. In chapter 13, we see Invisible man walking down the streets of Harlem, proudly eating his yam and proclaiming "I yam what I yam." I think this is a very important part to understanding IM's identity. Yams are apart of black c ulture and they are especially in the south. IM proclaiming this shows that he is proud of who he is, and is definitely showing that he is accepting himself being black and therefore invisible.
@snowyyeti you bring up an extremely important point here, that he is proud of his identity now. I think at first, he was almost ashamed of it but after everything that has happened and with this fresh start somewhere new, he got a chance to get away from his expectations and can live how he wants, rather than how everybody else wants him to live. I feel some character development happening....
@persephone I agree with this thought! IM at first struggled with finding himself, always relying on the opinions of those around him. I feel that through aging, he has gained experiences that have guided him to better realize this. There is a part in the novel where he repeatedly asks himself, "Who am I?" I think that after the incident in the paint factory, he has been given a new chance to discover who he is. New York seems to be a great stride towards him discovering himself as the "Invisible Man."
I'd like to add to my original response a bit... I think that IM has found this freedom because he got away from the college. While I think the college meant a lot to him, I also think he was trying to please Norton and maybe even Bledsoe a little too much. I think now that those 2 are out of his life for the time being, he finally has a moment to take a breath and think for himself, rather than thinking about what he can do to please those "higher" than him. I think this is why we've seen him enjoying himself more, although this could also be a side affect of his time at the hospital in that perhaps he forgot some of his original inner conflicts.
I don’t necessarily think IM had any failures that in turn altered his identity. I think it was more of the trauma and distortions aspect that Freud discussed. An example of one of the traumas IM had experienced would be the battle royale, I think this played a major role in shaping him not only as a character, but for his identity. This could be one of the “symptoms” that IM would most connect with.
@persephone, I absolutely agree with this. I think one of IM's biggest faults is how influenced by others around him. He struggles to find his own identity and instead seems to always base himself on those around him. Although this is true, I don't believe that this bad habit stops after he leaves college. I think this is shown with how Brother Jack uses Invisible Man to advance his cause and doesn't really allow IM to speak on what he wants to.
@persephone I would definitely have to agree with this point. I feel as if he started off with a grudge against this invisible persona he obtained, but as he matured and learned of the positives that come out of his unwanted IM title, he grew to accept/build off of it. The theme of it somewhat connects to an underdog story, with being unappreciative of a status that may not be deemed as the best. By finding himself more throughout the story, he finds that his personality is within his invisibility trait.
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