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Invisible Man | Study Guide

Ralph Ellison

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Course Hero Literature Instructor Russell Jaffe explains the main characters in Ralph Ellison's novel Invisible Man.

Invisible Man | Characters

Character Description
Narrator The unnamed young black man, who refers to himself as an invisible man, spends the novel trying to identify himself as an individual within society's racist expectations of what it means to be a black man. Read More
Dr. Bledsoe The president of a prestigious black college, Bledsoe is more interested in maintaining his personal power than in truly enlightening his students. Read More
Mr. Norton Norton is a white trustee who funds the college in a narcissistic attempt to shape his legacy, even though he has no interest in the actual struggles of the students he claims to support. Read More
Jim Trueblood Trueblood is an ignorant black sharecropper who lives near campus; he is infamous for impregnating his own daughter. Read More
Mary Mary is a kindly black woman who nurtures the narrator after the paint factory explosion. She symbolizes the strength of the black community. Read More
Ras Ras the Exhorter is a belligerent, angry black man who opposes the Brotherhood and incites riots in Harlem. Read More
Brother Jack Brother Jack is the white leader of the Brotherhood in Harlem. Read More
Reverend Barbee Reverend Barbee is the blind Southern reverend who preaches about the Founder's legacy.
Lucius Brockway Lucius Brockway is the boiler room worker responsible for exploding the paint factory.
Tod Clifton Tod Clifton is the black member of the Brotherhood who becomes disillusioned with the organization and turns to selling Sambo dolls on the street to white tourists.
Crenshaw Crenshaw is the attendant to the veteran doctor.
Dupre Dupre is a looter who misleads the narrator into helping burn down a tenement building during Harlem's race riots.
Young Emerson Young Emerson is the seemingly homosexual son of a wealthy white man who self-servingly helps the narrator find a job.
Emma Emma is Brother Jack's mistress and a powerful female member of the Brotherhood.
Founder The Founder is the educator who founded the black college the narrator attends; he is a civil rights leader with a mythic legacy.
Grandfather The narrator's grandfather advises him to remain subservient to white men even if doing so is treacherous.
Brother Hambro Brother Hambro is the leader in the Brotherhood charged with the narrator's training and indoctrination into Brotherhood ideologies.
Mr. Kimbro Mr. Kimbro is the paint factory manager who doesn't notice when the Optic White paint is sent out slightly gray.
The Provos The Provos are an elderly black couple evicted from the Harlem apartment, an event that prompts the narrator's first street speech.
Scofield Scofield is a looter who misleads the narrator into helping burn down a tenement building during Harlem's race riots.
Sybil Sybil is the neglected wife of a white Brotherhood member; the narrator attempts to seduce her.
Brother Tarp Brother Tarp is the brotherhood member who escaped slavery on a chain gang and becomes the narrator's mentor.
Unnamed White Woman The narrator sleeps with an unnamed white woman from the Brotherhood in Chapter 19.
The Veteran Doctor The shell-shocked war veteran from the Golden Day speaks the truth despite being labeled insane.
Peter Wheatstraw Peter Wheatstraw is a cart-man and folk singer who first encourages the narrator to embrace his slave heritage.
Brother Wrestrum Brother Wrestrum is the opportunistic, meddling brother who accuses the narrator of using the organization for personal gains.
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