Friday, January 29, 2016

Speak Your Mind! Daily Discussion Forum

The Limited Vision of Others

Ultimately, it is the limited vision of others that causes the narrator’s identity to become subverted again and again. His attempts to gain visibility are a direct consequence of his beliefs of the ideology of others (Barbee and Bledsoe’s message, Brother Jack and the Brotherhood). It is only when he starts to break away from the Brotherhood does he finally begin to understand himself.
“A glass eye. A buttermilk white eye distorted by the light rays. An eye staring fixedly at me as from the dark waters of the well. Then I was looking at him standing above me, outlined by the light against the darkened half of the wall” (Ellison 466).
“I looked at him again as for the first time, seeing a little bantam rooster of a man with a high-domed forehead and a raw eye-socket that wouldn’t quite accept its lid. I looked at him carefully now with some of the red spots fading and with the feeling that I was just awakening from a dream” (Ellison 468).
“I looked at his eye. So he knows how I feel. Which eye is really the blind one?” (Ellison 470).
Questions to consider:  How do the above quotations support the argument that the limited vision of others is causing the subversion of the narrator’s identity? How does the motifs of light versus dark (especially in the quote listed above) relate to the idea of visibility versus invisibility?

16 comments:

  1. Everyone around the narrator is at least partially blind in the book, they have some bias to the way they think based off of what they are told. They share their ideas with the narrator convinces him of the same beliefs that they have, not giving the narrator a chance to think for himself. This happens with the brotherhood after the narrator gave his first official speech as part of the brotherhood he was sent away to be taught what the brotherhood’s beliefs are and how to give a proper speech, they did not like the way the narrator originally thought, they felt the need to mold his way of thinking to better fit their needs. The narrator accepts that he must of been wrong at first then later the narrator realizes that specifically brother Jack is partially blind. This happens when brother Jack takes out his glass eye, this shows literal partial blindness and leads the narrator believe that his views are blind as well. The glass eye, that belonged to brother Jack, was fixed at the black wall, this could mean that he now focused on all the bad in the world after all that has happened, this may have caused people who see good to become invisible to brother Jack. They are worthless to him because they have different views, brother Jack is outlined by light because that is what cover he puts on himself, he wants people to think he is fighting for good to get others to join, when he is surrounded by darkness which reveal the truth of his actions. Brother Jack’s horrible actions are invisible to those who share the same bias as him.

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    1. I agree with your comment, but I have a question, how did the brotherhood's action of molding his way of thinking affect the narrator's identity?

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    2. I agree with your comment, do you think that Brother Jack considers the rest of the brothers as darkness or are they considered light because they have similar views?

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  2. The quotations above support the argument that the limited vision of others is causing the subversion of the narrator’s identity because each of the quotes are about Brother Jack’s glass eye and he is part of the Brotherhood. Yesterday in class, we said that identity was constructed by external and internal forces. By these quotes we see that the external forces’ views are limited because the Brotherhood gave the narrator a new identity when he first joined the Brotherhood. By giving the narrator this new identity, they created a whole new story for the narrator, never knowing what the narrator’s actual life included. When the narrator sees Brother Jack’s vision is limited it made the narrator feel more like the Brotherhood had never seen him, making him feel more invisible. The motif of light and dark relate to visibility and invisibility because in the dark no one can see, so darkness would relate to invisibility. Also when it is light everyone can see, so light would relate to visibility.

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    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    2. I agree that the brotherhood helped construct the narrators identity but how do you think the lightness and darkness connect to the narrator?

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  3. The quotes support the argument that the limited vision of others is causing the subversion of the narrators true identity because Brothers Jacks glass eye symbolizes he can only see half of everything. This supports the idea of bias because he only sees what he believes and he doesn't see what others around he see or think. In the apartment scene when the Brotherhood recruited the narrator, the narrator simply shared his own views and beliefs in what was going on. The Brotherhood liked that he could persuade people and they liked how powerful his speech was. When he was recruited they immediately directed him to read all of their pamphlets and to become accustomed to their ideas. This reinforces the idea of bias, they took his "identity" that he originally had and changed it creating a "new identity" for him both figuratively and literally because they gave him a new name and they also changed his ideas and beliefs to better support the Brotherhood.

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    1. The motif of light versus dark relates to visibility versus invisibility because when people are afraid of the dark they are afraid of what they cant see or what is invisible to them, people aren't afraid of light because you can see everything, everything is visible. Brother Jacks glass eye relates to this because he can only see one side of things (bias) and what he can see is the light. What he cant see is others' ideas or the dark, which are sort of invisible to him.

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    2. (I've already replied once, but I just wanted to say that I completely agree with your argument on how Jack is only partially able to see things! Like what you said, "...he only sees what he believes...")

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  4. The motif of light and dark relates to Brother Jacks visibility in this scene. The way Brother Jack perceives the narrator can be compared to the "tainted sources of light" in the first quote. He believes he is seeing clearly when in reality, he is surrounded by a "darkened wall" or "distorted rays of light". Therefore, Ellison is portraying that Brother Jack's "perceived" insight is rather a blanket of ignorance.
    The irony in the last quote relates to Brother Jack's distorted notions on the narrator's identity. It is ironic that Brother Jack's only working eye would be as blind as his glass eye. However, Ellison does not mean this in a literal sense; Ellison is referring to Brother Jacks failure to grasp the world around him. Brother Jack is unable to see the true identity of the narrator and is therefore, blind to his reality.

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    1. lol that was my comment not my response to you.
      My response: Is it accurate in saying that you feel light, darkness and identity go hand in hand? If so, how would these motifs separate themselves to create a pure/ clear identity?

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  5. The motif of light and dark relates to Brother Jacks visibility in this scene. The way Brother Jack perceives the narrator can be compared to the "tainted sources of light" in the first quote. He believes he is seeing clearly when in reality, he is surrounded by a "darkened wall" or "distorted rays of light". Therefore, Ellison is portraying that Brother Jack's "perceived" insight is rather a blanket of ignorance.
    The irony in the last quote relates to Brother Jack's distorted notions on the narrator's identity. It is ironic that Brother Jack's only working eye would be as blind as his glass eye. However, Ellison does not mean this in a literal sense; Ellison is referring to Brother Jacks failure to grasp the world around him. Brother Jack is unable to see the true identity of the narrator and is therefore, blind to his reality.

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  6. The motif of light and dark relates to Brother Jacks visibility in this scene. The way Brother Jack perceives the narrator can be compared to the "tainted sources of light" in the first quote. He believes he is seeing clearly when in reality, he is surrounded by a "darkened wall" or "distorted rays of light". Therefore, Ellison is portraying that Brother Jack's "perceived" insight is rather a blanket of ignorance.
    The irony in the last quote relates to Brother Jack's distorted notions on the narrator's identity. It is ironic that Brother Jack's only working eye would be as blind as his glass eye. However, Ellison does not mean this in a literal sense; Ellison is referring to Brother Jacks failure to grasp the world around him. Brother Jack is unable to see the true identity of the narrator and is therefore, blind to his reality.

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  7. these quotations support the argument that the limited vision of others is causing the subversion of the narrator’s identity because they reveal that brother jack only has partial vision. This creates the bias attitude in the brotherhood only seeing or creating what is needed. In the eviction scene and his very first speech while with the brotherhood the narrator spoke his mind without thinking. The brotherhood immediately forced him to change this and study the ideas of the brotherhood. This created a new subversion of his identity by giving him a new name and new thoughts forced by the partial vision within the brotherhood. The motif of dark and light relate to visibility and invisibility because the dark is the part that cannot be seen, in the brotherhood it is the bad because everyone has a bias and is forced into the same views. This relates the brother jacks eye because it is blindness looking at the dark. it is the part of his vision that cannot see the darkness that is happening. The "distorted rays of light" that reveal jacks eye is showing the narrator the truth behind the bias that brother jack holds.

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    1. I agree with your claim about the views of the Brotherhood being linked to the only eye Jack has. Do you think that the narrator realized when the eye fell out, that Brother Jack was almost incapable of seeing him for who he is?

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  8. I believe that Brother Jack's inability to see with both eyes goes along hand in hand with the subversion of the narrator's identity. By knowing that Jack only has one eye with which he can truly see out of, we know that this can symbolize his authority over many matters including the identity of the narrator. The one eye symbolizes Brother Jack's only focus; his power over people. However, at the same time having one eye is symbolic of his inability to look has his desire to recognize the effects his authority can have one people around him. This can be related to how his authoritative nature drives people to go past their comfort zones, molding them to conform to his desires. Relating this to lightness and darkness, lightness would be Jack's ability to see the narrator as he wishes to be seen, while darkness would be his inability to be the narrator for who he is.

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