In the book of Invisible Man, by Ralph Ellison the Narrator starts the second chapter by giving a description of how the undertaking to his hole began, starting at the college. The Narrators perception of the college shows him as an individual who is contained in an isolated region from the rest of the public community and has an unethical view of the rest of society that is not a part of the college. Through the use of diction, symbolism and details the Narrator reveals his attitude toward the college.
The Narrator is very auspicious at the beginning declaring his admiration for the college campus, but moderately demonstrates that he was blind during that time. In the passage the Narrator lifts the College on a pedestal calling it, “A beautiful college… gracefully winding… [And how it] dazzled the eyes” (pg. 34, IM). The Narrator is blind the whole time and he is describing it as if he regrets that he should have never left the campus. He calls the whole experience at the campus no more than, “A pleasant, time killing dream” (pg. 6, IM) in which he uses the word “pleasant” to express that it might have been better off to not wake up from that “dream. ”
The Narrator describes an everyday routine as having, “Eyes blind like those of robots” (pg. 36, IM). His word used here exposes that he did not do his own thinking but did what was expected as a bee does for its queen. He mentions many references to a life at the college as being bee like, establishing at the beginning that there was, “Bee-humming air” and throughout the passage much of the color yellow saying, “Yellow faces” and “The school a flower-studded wasteland”(pg. 7, IM). As a bee he follows a set of instructions and considers the college as a place for refuge at the time as a bee to its hive and calling the outside world of his “island”(pg. 36, IM) an “insane asylum”(pg. 35, IM). His attitude towards the college has been regret since he was blind and “robotically” manipulated to perform the tasks given to him. There is much discreet ambiguity of symbolism that the Narrator also uses to persuade his attitude toward the college. A pivotal figure in the book of Invisible Man is the bronze statue of the founder.
During this time in the book there were two types of black people: the educated ones and the non-educated ones. The college was the place for educated people and they had a bronze statue of the founder and the Narrator asks himself, “Whether the veil is being lifted or lowered more firmly in place” (pg. 36, IM). The Narrators goal since the beginning of the book was to be noticed as a human being and the desire for equality, but when he received the scholarship towards the college he thought he was moving up in the social status when really the white men were using it to blind him and “[lower the veil] more firmly in place. The veil is a metaphor for the narrator’s blindness, his inability to discern life as it is. The founder is also illustrated as blind and described to have, “empty eyes” (pg. 36, IM) which reveals that trying to start an education for black people won’t change anything so his vision for the college is vain; therefore, The Narrator and statue are both distracted by the college and the foolery it actually brings them. The college is an empty and solitary place where the black people that want to rise in society get a veil put on them tighter.
There are also details in the passage to reveal the Narrators attitude toward the college. The first paragraph is how the development of his blindness first started where he, “closed [his] eyes” (pg. 35, IM). When he opens his eyes he says, “The spell is broken and I try to re-see” (pg. 35, IM). He sees the dryness of it all, referring to the college. This exemplifies that he has no recollection of the simple things from the college saying, “Why does no rain fall through my memories’’ (pg. 36, IM).
The past is a place the Narrator doesn’t want to return to and no recollection of the past makes him that much more invisible and powerless unlike the bird-soiled statute of the founder because it has a past that gives it authority. Also, when the Narrator looks at the “empty eyes” of the founder and says that, “He looks upon a world I have never seen” (pg. 36, IM) the Narrator could be referring to the empty fields he was describing when he, “[Stood] as if for an answer” (pg. 35, IM). The Narrator gives sad details of his recollection of the college which emphasizes his pointless life and invisibility then.
The Narrators Blindness covers the reality that the college is an enslavement ground to trap all who are opposing the whites. The college has all sorts of illustrations to show that they are bound to white men’s authority no matter what, but the Narrators race is all too distracted to notice it and therefore are all blind. The college brings ignorance, destruction and a taking of one’s self-worth from the reality they are in, but the Narrator thinks that he achieving a goal which makes him an invisible man.