Invisible Dreams





Welcome to our web page about the Invisible Man. We will be taking a look into the importance that dreams have in this novel. We will take you through the story and elaborate on the meanings and the foreshadowing of dreams. Dreams play an important part in the main character's life. Please feel free to read on and learn more about the dreams in Invisible Man, a novel by Ralph Ellison.



In the Prologue, Invisible Man has a very long and strange dream. He asks some "jokers" for a cigarette but instead gets a reefer. Invisible Man smokes it and this causes his dream. He sees a man preaching and a congregation answering him. Invisible Man finally leaves the group and meets an old woman who is crying. She tells him that she "dearly loved her master" and that he gave her several sons. But she was upset because of her master's death, although, her sons were laughing about it. Invisible Man then meets up with the old women's six sons who threaten him because they believe he made "ma" cry. Invisible Man finally wakes to the sound of Louis Armstrong singing, "What Did I Do To Be So Black and Blue?"


Chapter 1

Invisible Man has a dream that involves his grandfather. He dreamed that he was at the circus with his grandfather, and his grandfather told him to open his briefcase and read what was inside the envelope. He kept opening envelope after envelope until he reached one with writing. His grandfather told him to read it out loud and it said,"To whom it may concern, Keep this nigger- boy running." Invisible Man awoke from this dream with the sound of his grandfather's laughing ringing in his ears. This dream is very significant to the story. I think the clowns symbolize the white men and his grandfather not laughing at them is a way of not following along and obeying whites. It's a symbol of his not giving in to the white man's reign. The expression "Keep this nigger-boy running" is referring to Invisible Man doing what is expected of him and doing what the white men want him to do. It's saying keep him doing what they need him for, what they will benefit and profit off of him. He is a mere puppet, entertainment in the show, and the white man is the puppet master.


Chapter 2

There is dream that is one of the most significant in the whole book. It is a dream that Jim Trueblood has about who knows what. This is his dream.
When Jim Trueblood falls asleep he enters a woman's room. He sees a big grandfather clock in the corner with a white woman in it. The white woman comes out of the grandfather clock and she is wearing a white nightgown. The woman grabs Jim Trueblood and he throws her on the bed trying to get away from her. When she falls white geese fly out of the bed and out the window. Jim Trueblood gets away from the woman and runs through a tunnel. Finally he gets out of the tunnel and wakes up. When he wakes up he is having sexual intercourse with his own daughter.


Chapter 6

When Invisible Man is told by Dr. Bledsoe to leave the college he can't believe it. His mind starts to "whirl in a circle" with all the events that happened that day. He feels as though all of the dreams of his grandfather are before him. That his grandfather is "hovering over him, grinning triumphantly." Invisible Man starts to believe that his grandfather might win.


Chapter 9

Invisible Man goes to sleep and dreams of revenge on Dr. Bledsoe because of his vindictive letters. Invisible Man looked to Bledsoe as a father figure and Bledsoe let him down. Invisible Man is very upset.


Chapter 11

Invisible Man is in an explosion and goes through shock therapy to cure himself. The doctors ask Invisible Man questions such as "Who are you?", "What is your name?", "What is you mother's name?", "Who is Buckeye Rabbit?", but he can't answer any of the questions because he is fading in and out of consciousness. He thinks he is answering the doctors but he is really dreaming.


Chapter 16

Invisible Man has a dream of becoming important in society and in the Brotherhood. In Chapter 16, Invisible Man has to go be tutored by Brother Hambro about ideology. This is just a big nuisance for him because it is wasting his time and making his dream of becoming more important take that much longer. Invisible Man wants to be a part of the history being written and wants to get started as soon as possible, so he agrees to go along with the Brotherhood's wishes but silently disagrees with being sent away. His dream of becoming more also brings along with it a lot of hard work and determination. "It was no dream, the possibility existed."


Chapter 19

Invisible Man sleeps with a very wealthy married woman. As he is laying there with her something so unbelievable happens, he can't tell if it is real or if he's dreaming. The woman's husband comes home, looks right at him as he's laying in her bed and does nothing. Her husband just nonchalantly tells her to wake him up early. It's as if they're not even married, and Invisible Man can't believe her husband's reaction.


Chapter 20

In the last line of Chapter 20 Invisible Man says,"All our work had been made. And it's all my fault. I'd been so fascinated by the motion that I'd forgotten to measure what it was bringing forth. I'd been asleep, dreaming." Invisible Man is referring to the fact that Clifton had been shot and this brought him back to reality and made him realize just how little the Brotherhood had accomplished. Invisible Man blames himself for this.


Chapter 22

When Invisible Man enters the room with the Brothers at the beginning of Chapter 22, he compares it to a dream he often has about his grandfather. In the dream, Invisible Man's grandfather is staring at him from across the "dimensionless space of a dream-room." He compares this to the way the men of the Brotherhood are looking at him when he goes to meet them.


Chapter 25

When Invisible Man is in the manhole he has a dream that he is chased by all the people that have tried to tell him what to do. He finally decides to stop running and refused the request to join them again. So, they held him down while Jack castrated him with a knife. The Invisible Man decides to stop running from the fact that he determines his own destiny and should stop doing what everyone else tells him to. When he awakes he realizes that despite all the pain he has gone through he has learned a valuable lesson and surviving it has only made him stronger. His experiences will better his future.

Back to A4 Class Page.