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Free Study Guide-Invisible Man by Ralph Waldo Ellison-Free Book Notes
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CHAPTER 24

Summary

The narrator attends the next Brotherhood meeting and tells them everything they want to hear. He says things are calming down in Harlem, even though he really knows that tension is mounting perilously. He gives them a fake list of new members who support the Brotherhood. The leaders are impressed.

The narrator has planned to use Sybil, the lonely wife of one of the Brotherhood leaders, to enact his underhanded plan to corrupt the Brotherhood's goals. He gives Sybil a ride home and arranges for them to meet at his apartment. When they are together, he botches his plan, serving drinks that are too strong. He also talks of politics, a subject that she hates. He tries to gather information from her about the Brotherhood leadership, his role in the organization, and what plans are being made. When he fails to gain any information, he imagines how Rinehart might handle the situation.


Sybil becomes drunk and sexually aggressive, inviting him to perform acts he has never done. She wants him to pretend to rape her. She says she trusts him and thinks he is beautiful, calling him a "big black buck." He begins to wonder if she is using him, just as he is using her. He realizes that he is not even special to her, just a black man she is going to have sex with. The Brotherhood calls and tells him something is brewing in Harlem and he needs to come at once. When he gets to Harlem, wild riots have erupted. Debris is flying, and the narrator is struck on the head. He puts his briefcase over him as protection and begins to run.

Notes

The narrator is successful in keeping the Brotherhood ignorant about the neighborhood conditions and the growing discontent, for he told them what they wanted to hear, rather than the truth. Despite this small success in his plan, his mission with Sybil proves to be ineffective. He realizes that while he can rationalize away his personal responsibility, he still has a conscience. The narrator may be invisible to others, but this does not mean he does not exist; he is real and must answer to himself. He chooses not to use Sybil.

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Free Study Guide-Invisible Man by Ralph Waldo Ellison-Free Plot Synopsis
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