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I think that Bledsoe isn't evil, he's just a d*ck. Although what he did was incredibly messed up and absolutely unacceptable, he's just playing the game the only way he knows how, he's doing what he can to survive. Although I will admit he definitely let some of his power go to his head, comparing himself to god and all.
I think there is a sense of moral high ground with this argument. I do not believe that Bledsoe is evil. He’s too worried about being the odd one out, the only one that’s willing to fight for change, because that will in turn hurt his position of power and reputation. That may be perceived as selfish, and honestly, it is a little selfish. However, at the same time, you can’t really blame him. If any of us were put in that position, where we could lose everything just because we stood up for something and it didn’t even end up making a difference. Nowadays, most of us have a mob mentality where we just “go with the flow”, and that’s what’s being shown here. It does not necessarily make him evil, however it could still make him selfish and a coward.
@klynnph This is true, the position of power he found himself in often got to his head. I think this also played a big role in him taking a stand or not. Just because he became overconfident, doesn’t mean he still wasn’t a coward. If he was truly powerful and willing to do whatever it takes, he would take a stand which he didn’t. He cares more about his reputation and power above anything else.
Bledsoe does seem to go pretty far, especially when he says, "But I've made my place in it and I'll have every Negro in the country hanging on tree limbs by morning if it means staying where I am". This sounds pretty evil and very power hungry. However, in regards to the fact that Bledsoe is "playing the game", that he knows his position and he is determined to keep it, I can't help but almost think of him as not too bad, and pretty intelligent. Sure, he does seem very power hungry, but I think that the idea that he has figured out how to play the game and has this state of power is better than being a naïve and brainwashed. What do you guys think? If you were in this situation during this time...what do you think you would do? Would you go against society or "play the game"?
@gil, this is a interesting point that you bring up. Originally I questioned why you would ever do what Bledsoe did. I thought he was power hungry and a selfish person. But while "playing the game" may seem like the move a coward would take, it might be the best decision. Yes he had to suffer to get where he is today, but now he is a high ranking figure who is in a much better position then most black people in this time. I honestly think I would've done the same thing as Bledsoe. If I was in the position that black people were during this time I would do whatever I could to get out of this position, and that's what Bledsoe did. I would never talk to people the way he does, but I would do what he did to get to where he is now.
I agree with you that he doing what he knows best. He knows how to play to what the white men want in order to gain power for himself. He demonstrates these abilities when talking to Mr. Norton. I very much respect the drive that he has for success. Although his absolute lack of compromise seems to be excessive (for example wanting to expel Invisible Man). He confirms to Invisible man that he knows what he is doing when he tells him that he can't show the white men what they want to see, and instead show them what you want them to see. I found it fascinating that he achieved this level of control and he is aware of it.
Although I would like to entertain the thought that I would try to achieve racial quality, I don't think I honestly would. As a Black man in that time period, I am not sure that I would be able to make any significance. As selfish as it may be, I think that the best life that I would try to achieve is the same as Bledsoe. As long as I am able to maintain my position and relationship with the wealthy white men, I am able to stay in power. If I am in power and have major influences, then I most likely have quality amounts of wealth. One thing that I think I could do is use my position of power as leverage to make changes in small increments in order to better the situation of the students and the Black community in general. I can clearly see the extremist point that Bledsoe takes his power to with his willingness to sacrifice others to stay in power. I still feel that I cannot hate him as I would most likely try to work with what I have which is what he did.
@aplitstudent123I agree. I think that Bledsoe isn't evil, he is just incredibly selfish. Bledsoe knows that he has a lot of power in his position, even if people don't realize he has that power. Especially in the time period where black people were looked down upon by the white people in power, Bledsoe knows that this position is probably his only chance to have power in this society so Bledsoe wants to keep it to avoid a likely alternative of becoming impoverished in a different job. This is why I see Bledsoe as selfish instead of evil, because I don't think Bledsoe actively wants to harm other people, he just values his position of power over the wellbeing of other people.
@leinweber, this is exactly how I feel. I feel like Bledsoe just doesn't want to throw away all of his hard work that he did to get where he is now. And like you said this isn't evil, this is just selfish. He throws away a lot of his morals in order to keep his power. While a lot of us still see this as bad, I also feel like a lot of us would do the same if we were in his position. He was one of the very few black people who actually made it to a power position during this time. While what he does in this position might not be the best, I don't think that I would want to lose everything that I've worked for.
After reading a bit further I'd like to rewrite my response to this question. I still don't think Bledsoe is evil, however I do believe that he is willing to do anything to stay on top, even if that means being morally corrupt. I think we can see this most prominently in what he did to IM in response to what happened with Mr. Norton (keeping it vague to avoid spoilers). I think even though in that scenario, Bledsoes position was in absolutely no danger, he felt the need to get rid of IM in order to make completely sure that he was to remain on top. So like I mentioned before, Bledsoe is EXTREMELY manipulative, and is willing to do anything to remain in power. So I'm not convinced he's evil per se, but clearly suffering from a power trip, and maybe even afraid to lose his position.
@leinweber I think selfish is a great word to sum up who Bledsoe is. While he still believes in helping blacks become more equal with the whites, he is so selfish that he puts himself before this goal. So, rather than using his position to help others, he only truly uses it to benefit himself and his own image. The part about Bledsoe's selfishness is that he is selfish in such a way that many are blind to it and are unable to realize what they are missing out on if Bledsoe was willing to truly help. IM becomes aware of Bledsoe's ways, but there are still so many others who are and will remain blinded to his truths.
@aplitstudent - I think you summarized this in a great way. I also see Bledsoe as such a selfish individual, but I would go maybe one step further and call him a narcissist. As you say, he is so focused on his own power that be cannot see that he could be further helping the African American community. He puts himself and his power above everything else in order to stay ahead instead of maybe sacrificing a little in order to help others. He is dangerous because many like IM believe that he is a person that they can look up to. IM even states that he hoped to be Bledsoe's assistant one day. This is dangerous because they cannot see that Bledsoe does not have their interests at heart and they are blinded by his power and influence.
I would most certainly agree with you that Bledsoe is a narcissist. His disregarding of others and wish only for self makes him a clear textbook example of a narcissistic based career. The modern-day business world is also a transactional and impersonal space in which narcissistic practices reign supreme. I believe this to be one of the core reasons behind my liking for Bledsoe. I highly respect one's drive to succeed as an individual. An aspect to consider is that in modern-day business order to have gained for yourself, you must subtract from someone else, in business it is the loss of the consumer that gains for the producer (profit margins from selling products), in Bledsoe's case, it is the loss of his respect as a free-thinking individual, opting to follow what the white people want, in order to gain for himself. I do draw the distinction that although trying to have a powerful position is respectable, allowing all Black people to hang just to stay in power is something quite awful.
@persephone I agree that he will do anything to stay on top. In Bledsoe's conversation with IM, Bledsoe made himself out to be the most powerful person that is in control of everybody. He made himself seem like he was better than everyone else, and could say anything he wanted to people, and they would listen and obey. This part of the book for me is what solidified how I feel about Bledsoe, and what I will always look back to when I hear his name. It was an important part of the book for me because this conversation is what lead him to New York in the first place.
@bunkymoo I agree. I think that this last conversation with Bledsoe really exhibited his outlook on life. He views himself on top and unstoppable, but what is most dishonorable is the fact that he needs to manipulate to get there. There is a point where you can understand a little bit of bending the cards in your favor to gain success (especially in a society where it is made impossible for you to otherwise). But, Bledsoe got into the habit of manipulating people he didn't even need to manipulate, and that is where for sure it is dishonorable. He said it himself, that IM could not touch him because no one would take his word over Bledsoes. Therefore, IM was not a threat. Yet he sent IM to New York with those recommendation letters that ultimately screwed him over. For what? Bledsoe could have easily just decided to not send any letter at all but his true character had to shine through
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