There are many types of dreams and many interpretations of those dreams. Dreams of power... of glory... of the past and the present... but none are as vivid as those that are found in Ralph Ellison's novel, Invisible Man.

The dreams start occurring in the very beginning of Invisible Man. In the infamous "Reefer Dream", IM talks about a dream he had after he used narcotics. In this bizarre dream, IM hears a speech on "the blackness of black", is assaulted by the son of a former slave, and is run over by a speeding machine. All of this occurs while listening to "What Did I Do To Be So Black and Blue?"(pgs 9-12). This is one of the most significant dreams in the book.

In another important dream, IM's deceased grandfather gives him a letter that says," To Whom It May Concern, Keep this Nigger-Boy Running (pg. 33)." At the time IM had no insight to its meaning, but this dream would constantly be used as a reference throughout the story.

Trueblood has a dream about his home, Mobile, Alabama, that directly affects IM's future. At the same time, Trueblood was having sex with his daughter, who ended up being impregnated by him. Trueblood dreamed of a woman he used to live with in a two story house. Then he dreamed of a hill, that no matter how fast he climbed, it seemed farther away, until finally he reaches the top. On top of the hill is a white house. Trueblood went in the house, and there is a room that is totally white. Inside the room is a white girl who wants Trueblood to snuggle up with her. But he just pushes her on to the bed and, " the woman just seems to sink outta sight, that there bed was so soft.... Then swoosh! All of a sudden, a flock of little white geese fly out of the bed(pg. 55-58)." Soon after, Trueblood wakes up and is going to tell his wife about the dream, but when he wakes up, he is on top of his daughter. This is important because this dream eventually gets IM kicked out of college. The reason for IM's expulsion is because Norton had a heart attack due to the shock of hearing this dream.

Dr. Bledsoe is a target of IM's rage. IM often dreams of publicly humiliating Bledsoe by forcing him to eat chitterlings. The reason IM feels hatred towards Bledsoe is because IM feels Bledsoe is fully responsible for IM moving to Harlem. He also feels like he has been stabbed in the back by Bledsoe, because Bledsoe wrote letters of recommendation that were really letters of degradation. These are the reasons that IM often dreams of revenge.

IM's grandfather is a constant figure in most of IM's dreams. In a dream after IM joins the Brotherhood, his grandfather tells him that, "You start up Saul, and end up Paul (pg. 331) ." This is important because it represents IM's transformation in the Brotherhood.

Near the end of the story, IM has two dreams which are extremely vivid. In one dream, Brother Jack, Mr. Norton and Dr. Bledsoe all merge into one powerful white man. In the other dream, Brother Jack, Young Emmerson, Dr. Bledsoe, Mr. Norton, Ras the Exhorter, the school superintendent, and several other men were in a room holding IM prisoner. IM says, "No, I'm through with all your illusions and lies, I'm through running (pg. 569). After castrating IM, Jack responds, "How does it feel to be free of Illusion?"(pg 569). They then force him to laugh. This just proves that his destiny has been controlled by others.

Throughout the book Invisible Man, there are many dreams. They have various topics. But on thing they all have in common is the fact that they are all very realistic and vivid.


Dream Interpretations

The Effects of Marijuana on the Human Body


The Disciple Paul
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Ralph Ellison


Page by :

John Salmon
TonyRay Brown

Web Page Content Over:
Ralph Ellison's
Invisible Man

TEAM English
Norman High School North
March 1999

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