How does the narrator in Invisible Man treat women?

1 Answer | Add Yours

accessteacher's profile pic

accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

The role of women in this novel is particularly interesting, as often women are shown to be nothing more than sex objects in a male dominated world. Consider, for example the presentation of the naked blond at the beginning of the novel, when the narrator is forced to box in front of an audience of whites. The naked blond is placed there seemingly deliberately to make the black boys feel uncomfortable as they look at a naked white woman. Yet, as she drives the male audience into a frenzy, the narrator feels a strange parallel between their situations:

They caught her just as she reached a door, raised her from the floor, and tossed her as college boys are tossed at a hazing, and above her red, fixed-smiling lips I saw the terror and disgust in her eyes, almost like my own terror and that which I saw in some of the other boys.

The novel therefore presents us with a world in which women seem often trapped and viewed as sex objects in the same way that blacks are trapped through the way in which whites view them. Sibyl is one example of a woman who seems trapped with her fascination of having a "savage" black man "rape" her, and thus perhaps represents a combination of both the racisism and discrimination in the novel and the way in which women are treated in a very patriarchal world.


We’ve answered 317,692 questions. We can answer yours, too.

Ask a question