ForumsDialogue is Action
Last Post Update: January 16
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As IM's view of the Brotherhood changes, as we see in the very last part of chapter 20, I thought I would make a topic that just talks about the brotherhood. What they stand for, IM's feelings towards them, the decisions the brotherhood makes, etc.
To start off, I think that the end of chapter 20 is an important turning point for IM and his relationship with the Brotherhood. He says that "All our work had been very little, no great change had been made. And it was all my fault." (page 444). This was very interesting to me and I think this is the first big step towards IM living in a basement stealing electricity and giving up on the movement because he knows he cant make a difference.
Please say anything else about the brotherhood, I think the brotherhood is one of the most important elements of this book!
The Brotherhood was absolutely an essential part of the story, as well as IM's character. I think that by allowing IM membership in a social and political development, the Brotherhood temptingly restores his fantasies about living a life of social importance. Also, IM's position within the association gives him the opportunity to do what he enjoys most—public speaking. The Brotherhood forces IM to assume another identity and to break with his past, and he does as such without opposition.
So far The Brotherhood as been an extension of IM's illusioned mind. With every new situation, he feels he truly knows himself, that this is who he is and these people are right. First Bledsoe, then Norton, then Brockway, then The Brotherhood. With each relationship he thinks he has developed his identity and his perception of himself as a black man. Each time, something changes. I think he might have 1 or 2 stages more to go through before getting to the prologue, but I feel strongly that each are just a vehicle for identity. The Brotherhood would be the strongest, since we have understood it's development and the complexity it had within the political scene. It shows that even those whites meaning well and "actively" fighting for rights aren't as accepting as they seem.
I would like to ask another question on this forum, something that I have just noticed. On the back of the book, it mentions a "communist rally where they (black people) are elevated to the status of trophies." I am fairly certain that this is referring to the speech in chapter 16 and I am 100% sure that the communists holding the communist rally is the brotherhood. I had never thought about it this way and I would love to hear your thoughts on this.
I have not gotten quite as far as chapter 20, but I am on chapter 17 and already the brotherhood is definitely changing IM. The speech is chapter 16 really stood out to me and I am curious what everyone else thought of it. I feel that as far as our IM goes, he feels this sense of belonging and like he is being heard for the first time. I remember when he thought to himself that if anyone from his university saw him, they wouldn't even recognize him- he has turned into a different person, one who rallies a crowd. You can see this shift in IM, I mean think about the juxtaposition of his first speech at the Battle Royale and the speech we see in chapter 16. The difference is astonishing!
Do you think IM knows what the Brotherhood is about (the communist ideas) or do you think that he just enjoys the feeling of belonging?
This communist idea is really interesting to me because I hadn't thought of it before. To answer @gil 's question, I think that IM is also slightly unaware of the communist undertones because he is so focused on finding himself. IM is also craving the feeling of belonging so he is trying to find it anywhere he can, whether it be in the college, or the brotherhood.
I feel that Invisible Man is slowly finding himself more as we go through the book and is becoming less focused on feeling like he belongs somewhere. This is of course my own interpretation but I think we are starting to see IM find his own identity and start to think for himself more instead of agreeing with others in order to get a standing in society. What are your thoughts?
@gil There was a note in my book by a previous student that suggested the Brotherhood contained some communist ideals, and I have been meaning to dive deeper into that thought, perhaps it would be an interesting class discussion. But from what I have seen so far in the Brotherhood, everyone is either there for their own personal gain or they have given up on trying to stop this exact behavior. I see this in the contrast between Wrestrum and Tarp. Wrestrum is quite confusing to me. He called out IM as wanting to be some sort of dictator (hence the communist ideals) yet he was there with IM when he made the phone call, but accused him of using the interview for personal gain and wanted to remove him from the Brotherhood. I hope to read about this more to have it unfold but right now I don't see how IM could trust any of the brothers.
@mangoman I also believe this is happening. He has always relied so heavily on others helping him and he is finally moving away from that mindset. I think he was starting to notice that the Brotherhood isnt really at all what they want him to think. They are more concerned with politics within the group than they are with actually making a difference in the community. I think that this realization is so important and this is yet another turning point for IM in this story
@mangoman For a while I thought he was beginning to finally find himself, but with the Brotherhood being introduced now I really just don't think so. The first red flag to me was that they gave IM an entirely new name. After his psychological reconstruction in the hospital to having to adapt to a new calling, it seems that his past self is being replaced with a new identity, not necessarily him finding his true self. Now more than ever, he has so many more eyes on him, it seems that he now identifies with the Brotherhood as a whole then as a singular person.
In sixth hour we had an interesting discussion about the beliefs and attitude of the brotherhood. They try so hard to avoid the problem that it actually has the reverse effect, still giving the problem power. Todd Clifton selling the Sambo paper dolls is a total 180 on the brotherhood’s philosophy. Rather than hide the history and ignore it, Clifton has chosen to put it all out there in the open, right in your face. I’m curious if the brothers' beliefs are actually effective in other scenarios-are there any instances when ignoring the problem actually solves anything? Possibly? I can’t think of any right now, but I’d like to hear if you guys can. What do you think forgetting history would do to humankind? Are there any ways that could actually be effective? I feel that it is one thing to hold onto the past, and another to acknowledge it but move on and learn from it. I’m curious if anyone believes otherwise.
The brotherhood is an vital part in the book and everyone has to agree with that. In the brotherhood, Invisible man finally feels welcomed and appreciated by his so called brothers. But since they are not what they seem at first glance, he loses hope in his people. Which is what probably leads him to live the rest of his life lonely with an absurd amount of lights.
@gil I agree that the Brotherhood in fact works its way around problems then actually tackling them. Today Chisnell brought light to the instant when IM is being initiated into the Brotherhood a tipsy brother comes in and asks him to sing. Without hesitation, Brother Jack condemns this brother for asking the question and profusely apologizes for his "insensitivity." IM is puzzled by this because he was not addressed in the conversation about what he wanted, Brother Jack merely avoided the subject instead of actually communicating to IM and asking what he wanted. Brother Jack has a false perception of what it means to effectively solve/better an issue. Instead of asking IM if he in fact enjoyed singing and would be able to, he slandered the brother for his assumption of a stereotype of black people which is that all of them like to entertain. IM may have in fact liked to sing, but since Brother Jack silenced both of them, IM's voice was not heard. This behavior is carried into the Brotherhood which in no way seems effective.
@abuzz I enjoyed learning about the way that the brotherhood faces problems through this instance with brother jack. Him, so quickly jumping to the conclusion that IM does not want to sing was definitely a little weird and after this talk today it made me think a little bit. When I first read this part the immediate thought that came into my head was "this is an absurd question and obviously racist why would he want to sing when you ask him like that." After the conversation in class today I realize how similar to Brother Jack I sounded when I thought that. I immediately added fuel to the fire which is this stereotypical idea that black people are here to entertain. An interesting realization and something that made me feel guilty.
@abuzz I see what you mean, and I almost fell like the brotherhood is assisting his finding on himself. While the brotherhood is essentially giving IM their own idea of an identity I think it's helping IM see what he likes about it and what he doesn't. In doing so I think IM is creating his own identity through what he doesn't like about his current one.
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