Invisible Man
Ralph Ellison
Contributed by Fernande Huls
Chapter Summaries
Timeline
Chapter Summaries Table
Chapter Summary
Chapter 1

The narrator’s story goes back to when his grandfather died cursing his own submission to white oppression. His grandfather had always gone along...

Chapter 2

When the invisible man goes to college, he works as a chauffeur for the prestigious guests of the school. His trouble begins the day that he drives...

Chapter 3

On the way to the Golden Day, Mr. Norton grows so weak in the backseat of the car that he passes out. The narrator brings him inside the brothel ho...

Chapter 4

When the narrator returns to the college campus with Mr. Norton in tow, Dr. Bledsoe, the black dean of the college and the narrator’s idol, is fu...

Chapter 5

The narrator goes to the college’s evening church service before his meeting with Dr. Bledsoe. During the service a visiting preacher tells a mov...

Chapter 6

The young man meets with Dr. Bledsoe after the church service, and he is expelled because he has put the school in danger by exposing the most unfl...

Chapter 7

When the narrator climbed on the bus to New York he was surprised to see that the veteran who had spoken so brashly to Mr. Norton at the Golden Day...

Chapter 8

The narrator sends the letters of recommendation that Dr. Bledsoe has given him to the offices of several of the school’s trustees expecting to f...

Chapter 9

The narrator, finally desperate to find work, goes to Mr. Emerson to ask for a job. He has the final letter of recommendation from Dr. Bledsoe with...

Chapter 10

The narrator goes to work at the paint plant immediately. After he makes a mistake with his first boss, a white man, he is sent down to the basemen...

Chapter 11

When the narrator wakes, he is in the factory hospital being treated for the injuries that he sustained in the accident. Although it is unclear wha...

Chapter 12

As the narrator walks back to his room at the boarding house he faints. Mary, a kind black woman, helps him to her apartment where she lets him res...

Chapter 13

He feels restless after staying in the apartment so long, so he goes out into the New York winter. As he walks down the sidewalk, he sees a man sel...

Chapter 14

Back at Mary’s apartment, the narrator keeps thinking of the job offer he turned down and how much money he owes Mary. The more he thinks about h...

Chapter 15

The narrator wakes early in the morning to the sound of people throughout the building banging on the steam pipes. Angry at the racket, he looks ar...

Chapter 16

At the rally that night the narrator is the last to speak and through his fear he is inspired by the energy of the crowd. Words flow out of his mou...

Chapter 17

Four months after his first speech, Brother Jack finally calls the narratorback to action. At midnight Brother Jack calls him and they go to a bar ...

Chapter 18

The narrator receives an anonymous note warning him to slow down or the very people who supported him would be the ones to cut him down. The note u...

Chapter 19

After a lecture on women’s rights, a white woman invites the narrator back to her home to discuss the Brotherhood ideology over coffee. She seduc...

Chapter 20

The narrator returns to Harlem only to find that things are very different. The people of Harlem no longer trust the Brotherhood because they feel ...

Chapter 21

The narrator organizes a public funeral service for Clifton without the permission of the Brotherhood because no one will return his calls or conta...

Chapter 22

The narrator returns to the district office after the funeral to find the leading committee of the Brotherhood waiting for him. They are angry that...

Chapter 23

The narrator decides to see Hambro that night, but on the way to visit with his Communist instructor Ras the Exhorter is rallying to call the peopl...

Chapter 24

The narrator, in his desire to get even with the Brotherhood for screwing him and Harlem, begins to fool the committee into believing that Harlem s...

Chapter 25

When the narrator makes it to Harlem he can hear gunshots, shouts, and breaking glass all around him. A bullet grazes his head as police chase men ...

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