Invisible Man
Ralph Ellison
Contributed by Fernande Huls
Chapter 20
Summary

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 that it has stopped working for them. Many of the narrator’s co-workers in the district are gone and to further the isolation he feels, he’s not called to participate in the Brotherhood strategy meeting. He takes a walk because he is so bothered by what’s happening in the Brotherhood and Harlem, and as he walks, he sees Clifton working as a street merchant selling dancing paper Sambo dolls. Shocked and hurt to see a promising Brother now defiling the race by selling such a degrading product, the narrator sees Clifton run away when the police head in his direction. A few minutes later he sees the cop pushing Clifton in front of him as they walk down the sidewalk. Clifton hits the cop and the cop shoots him. The narrator stands on the curb and watches Clifton die.

When he makes his way back to the district office, he looks around him and sees the people of Harlem. He looks at them and their living conditions and realizes that none of his speeches ever improved their lives. He sees that all the people around him are just unknown individuals whom history will ignore when they’re gone.

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