ForumsDialogue is Action
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Ok so what does that statue mean again?
In 6th hour, we spent a good chunk of our time talking about the "lifting the veil" statue that IM describes in Chapter 2. However, when we compared the statue's intentions to IM's interpretation, it is vastly different. IM paints the statue as "cold", "metallic", and "efficient blinding" while the intention was to show optimism. Why does IM use these details to paint a different interpretation of the statue to the reader? If I hadn't read Ch. 2 and saw the statue, I would have told you it was showing optimism.
I agree, I also would not interpret the statute as optimism. I was also confused by this point, but at a deeper look, my interpretation of the statue and the narrator's reflection of the veil is a symbolism of internal conflict that he is struggling with. While discussing his time at college, he states that he is unable to tell if he s lifting of lowering the veil into place. His root of being puzzled with the statue is due to him struggling with self-conflict, and that the statue represents what he struggles with every day. I found that in the reading he states the statue has "empty eyes". I think that Ellison did this as a device for parallelism.
@siennamuscat742 Ok, I like that interpretation a lot. It makes perfect sense since like what you mentioned, it's all about self-conflict. I guess I have to read some more to see the bigger picture of this.
The meaning of the statue was hard for me to interpret as well. When we talked about the meaning of the statue and who it was depicting I begun to think about some possible meanings. One thing that stuck out to me was that both people depicted in the statue were black. So as the statue couldn’t be showing a black vs. white issue, I thought that it could be about issues in the black community. Possibly that the educated class that they were superior to the uneducated class. Also the idea that to be part of the educated class you had to rely on white people in some way.
For the narrator, the college seems magical, a place where he can advance himself and earn a place at the top of black society. The Founder is the hero of the school’s model, but it is unclear if the school itself fights against or preserves white interests. The narrator is puzzled by this statue because it addresses what he struggles with daily, the ability to have a voice in society.
@stella I think your interpretation is spot-on that it's more an issue of class than race right here. There's definitely a reason this statue was placed in Chapter 2 before we do everything with Trueblood, and I think it's to highlight that there definitely is a distinction between the educated and uneducated. In fact, it's possible that the reason the Founder's race isn't mentioned in the book is because it doesn't matter to the lower man, because black or white, the educated treat the uneducated the same way.
I think that his meaning behond pointing out that the veil might be being lowered as opposed to raised comes from the idea that education can change the way you think. In being educated, you are probably going to take on a lot of the views of the educator, for better or worse. In the context of the book, I saw IM's (Invisible Man's) view of the veil being lowered as a recognition of this, that by going to the college he is allowing his views to be changed.
@madams43 I definitely agree, I also think the statue and veil are a symbol of his voice. I wanna add on though that I also think that it's not only that, it could also be a symbol of his class and not just his race. I think that despite the fact the statue is there to make students feel one way, it's making them feel the opposite. This feeling could be anger, disgust, resentment, many things.
At first when I read Chapter 2 and the statue, I was confused so I just kept reading and figured I would come back to it. I think I have somewhat of a grasp on what it means. I think mostly as @madams43 stated, while there are two black men the veil is still representing the white man's interests. This college was created for black people, but people like Mr. Norton, rich white men, are funding it and hold the most power. Mr. Norton talks of his fate, which is tied to IM's. No matter what IM does after the university, it will be known as Mr. Norton, the white man's doing an not IMs. Norton tells IM while in the car "You are bound to a great dream and to a beautiful monument." But what is that great dream? To please the white man and set his fate?
When I think of veils I think of the white wedding scene, and how the veil was used to show the bride's modesty and obedience, and ultimately her duty to serve and respect her husband. The veils is not as strong as chains, a typical symbol for slavery, but is still a tool of power. I could also see the veil as a response to education and the pressures of being educated but I think that it represents the power that still lies with white people.
If I had seen this statue without reading IM's interpretation, I would have viewed it as the veil being lifted. After reading how IM sees this statue, I'm not quite sure what interpretation I agree with yet. I can see and understand the argument both ways. I think this really exemplifies the question that was posed earlier in the year about how important the intention of the creator is and if every interpretation is valid. I think the creator's intention is important to keep in mind, and it can influence one's interpretation, but it doesn't make the interpretation of the audience invalid if it doesn't agree with the intention of the author. I think every interpretation is valid if the person making it is being honest and thoughtful with their interpretation (some interpretations can be decided to be wrong, but that doesn't necessarily make them invalid if they are honest interpretations). IM is being genuine with his interpretation, so I think there is value in his interpretation. Even if his interpretation is wrong- and I don't think it is- it points out something important: The conflict between classes, even within races.
What I'm about to write may sound really dumb and my thoughts may be very obvious, but I'm using the lame excuse that I'm super tired and may have trouble putting together very coherent thoughts. But, in regards to whether it's about race or class, I think the subject of the statue changes with which interpretation you agree. If you agree with what is believed to be the intention of the creator, I think it's about race. It shows the black community rising from tribulation through which they have been put and pulling themselves to a more dignified position where they can be seen as equal to whites. Conversely, if you agree with IM's interpretation, the statue is about class. It shows the higher class hiding and suppressing the lower class, even within their own race. I think this mindset is shown in chapter four: "He had no right to talk to a white man as he had, not with me to take the punishment..." (Ellison 106). Here, IM doesn't seem to mind if Dr. Bledsoe decides to have a bad attitude while talking to Norton, as long as the consequences don't fall on IM. He sees himself as being better than Dr. Bledsoe, and he doesn't want to be pulled down by Dr. Bledsoe's actions. IM didn't even want to bring Norton into the Golden Day. He wanted to hide the Golden Day community from Norton, just as the Founder on the statue is hiding the black man with the veil. He wanted to control what impression Norton had of the black community, and he wanted to make sure that impression was a good one. This idea is also shown a few pages earlier: "We take these white folks where we want them to go, we show them what we want them to see" (Ellison 102).
@nicole I think this is very important. I agree, if I would have seen this statue free of background, I would have seen it as lifting the veil. But, back to intention, the true intent could have easily been lowering the veil as IM thought. Whether or not Ellison included this detail to be portrayed as lowering the veil or lifting the veil, the question it raises over which option is vital to one of the most prominent themes of this book; racial inequality (more specifically, racial opportunity). The fact that I and Nicole can both say our genuine first impression of this statue would have been lifting show that there is already an advantage we have where we are not hardwired to notice/ highlight those details or think about things in a certain way. I think this conversation alone highlights the contrast of privilege that is there among us and IM
@theboulder That is a really interesting point that I hadn't considered, and it totally makes sense. The veil from the wedding and the veil from the statue could both represent people going from a place of innocence and freedom, to a different place of servitude. In the case of the bride at the wedding, they are going from not being married to an almost subservient position to the husband. In the case of IM, he is going from his own freedom of thought, and by entering the school the education will change the way IM views the world, which gives the educator power over him, because the educator can greatly influence IM's personal biases.
I think @stella and their interpretation is spot on. I think this statue has something to do with the conflict that the black community faced (and continues to face). I also really like @siennamuscat742 when they mentions that IM doesn't know if he is lifting or lowering the veil, which I've interpreted as inner conflict. IM is ecstatic to be in college and to get better education, but I also think he is worried about what could happen based on how he got in.
I interpreted the statue as showing Mr.Nortons agenda. He thinks he needs to help the black community so he thinks he's lifting that veil but the veil could also be seen as being lowered over the eyes of black citizens by the whte people in power
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