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Chapter 16 and IM's Speech
In chapter 16, IM gives a speech on dispossession. In class today we just barely touched on it at the end of class and I would like to come here and hear some of your opinions on what was really going on here. This meeting was called "A meeting of great political consequences!" I read this and then had trouble trying to wrap my head around the political consequences of the meeting.
Another thing which was weird to me was the chanting on page 340. The chant goes "No more dispossessing of the dispossessed!" Then, IM goes on to give a speech about not letting oppressors dispossess them but the Brothers do not like this speech. Brother Jack even cuts him off mid speech and tells him to not "end your usefulness before you have begun." What frustrated me about this chapter was IM's ability to get the crown riled up. He did a great job, but the Brothers were not happy. It seems as though the Brothers only care about pleasing the brotherhood, and speaking as the brotherhood would like to hear, not actually making a difference in the city. I don't know if this is just me, but that what it seemed like.
Also, another connection I may have made was when IM gets off of the stage he is temporarily blinded. Just like Reverend Barbee. Barbee was literally blind (as was IM after his speech) and not only that, but in the speech he gave, he was blind to some facts of society. If you agree or disagree with these points, please let me know. I think this chapter was especially important for learning about the brotherhood, and about IM's new personality.
I really like your points on the blindness. I think that this could be an archetype for IM. Being 'blind can be taken in several ways, for example shown here as blind (ignorant) to an issue, or blind as in literally can not see. As you showed, blind has reoccurred several times throughout the book and I think that this was definitely intentional. Now, straying from the facts, my opinion on this is that I think this could be showing how almost every single person in this novel is blind in a way. There seems to be an aspect of life that each character is blind to. Bledsoe is blind to how he is letting down his race, IM is blind to the many ways the people in his life are set up against him (at least at first), the brotherhood is blind to how they make no change at all, ect.
Let me know what you think!
@savhoisington I agree with you that the theme of blindness, especially figurative blindness, is absolutely not unintentional in this novel, I am starting to think that everything ellison does is intentional. On top of what you said (which I totally agree with all of it) I think that the ways in which we discover literal blindness in this novel is interesting. We always learn that someone is blind AFTER we hear about their views or what they are doing. This, like everything else is intentional. I think that the message Ellison is trying to convey with this is that everyone has some sort of blindness and that we should always be on the lookout for it. If we were to take at face value the beliefs of Barbee, Norton, and Brother Jack, we would be completely mislead and I think that IM is starting to realize that the points people make are fueled by misled thinking or biases.
Okay, so, I have a few things to say about this (although I'm sure it's been said). In The Brotherhood forum, a discussion going around was how the brotherhood may be trying to help IM find his identity, but he is changing for the brotherhood. To IM the brotherhood's intentions are good, but I honestly think that they are just trying to change him and use to get a better reach out or to get more publicity like it's a way of them saying "hey, this black man trust us and is on our side, you should be too!". During his first speech with the brotherhood, he said things that they didn't like. So they forced him to change how he gave speeches, by having someone (can't recall their name right now) show him how to properly do it the way the brotherhood actually wants. This makes me feel like they're restraining him in a way, they're kind of taking away the freedom that they initially promised him.
I saw this speech as somewhat of a test given by Brother Jack and the brotherhood for IM to see how he would perform and represent the group when he was in the spotlight. Although Brother Jack assigned him a mentor to work on his speeches and outreach, I thought for the most part the brotherhood and Brother Jack were satisfied with the speech IM delivered. To support that claim, I don't think that IM would be given more opportunities for speeches and other community outreaches to spread the brotherhood's goals if he had done a bad job. They must've seen some good potential in IM.
On the topic of Chapter 16 and the IM speech, I believe that it could be a cause for what happened in chapter 18 with Brother Wrestrum. Wrestrum made some sporadic and outrageous claims against IM. I believe he did this out of jealousy because IM was in the spotlight of the group but not because he was selfish. IM was doing well with his work and received recognition from the group, public, and outside media groups for representing the brotherhood well.
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