What are the differences between the narrator (Invisible man) and Dr. Bledsoe?

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Dr. Bledsoe represents cynicism and disillusionment; while the narrator is optimistic at this stage in his journey because he doesn't yet recognize the ways in which the world to which he seeks to belong has already rejected him.

Both Dr. Bledsoe and the narrator's dead grandfather share in common a feeling that they have to manipulate white people "with grins and yeses," that they have to learn to anticipate white people's needs and moods, as modes of survival. Dr. Bledsoe grows angry with the narrator, thinking him a fool, because the narrator has not yet learned this lesson.

Mr. Norton, the college's benefactor, has asked to go out to the former slave quarters and the narrator, whom Dr. Bledsoe has appointed as Norton's driver, obediently takes him there. In the old quarters, Norton meets Trueblood, who tells them the story of how he has sexually abused his daughter, thereby evoking Norton's own secret wish to commit incest. The encounter leaves Norton deeply troubled. Bledsoe becomes angry with the narrator for not knowing that he shouldn't have given in to Norton's wishes, despite what Norton said he wanted. Blesdoe explains that white men like Norton don't know really what they want from black people, and that their expressed desires for authentic experiences of black life are really disingenuous.

One could argue that, due to a refusal to become like Bledsoe--cynical and dishonest--in order to succeed, the narrator rejects society altogether by going underground.

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The Invisible Man represents innocence while Dr. Bledsoe is symbolic of manipulation. Dr. Bledsoe has learned how to use his connections with white men of power to maintain his position at the college, but Ellison suggests he has done so at the expense of his race. He has "bled so" by giving up so much of the African-American tradition and culture for his own gain that he is hardly a true black man anymore. Furthermore, he betrays the Invisible Man, who is just a victim of circumstance when he takes the white benefactor Mr. Norton at his request to visit Jim Trueblood and then to the Golden Day to recover. The narrator tries to do what he believes is the right thing while Dr. Bledsoe is conniving and self-serving.

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