To what does the narrator of Invisible Man attribute his invisibility?

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cybil eNotes educator| Certified Educator

As an African-American, the narrator initially believes he is invisible to white society. His encounter with the white man in the Prologue leads the narrator to strike out physically to gain recognition. As the novel progresses, the narrator finds himself invisible again and again, but not only to whites. For instance, Dr. Bledsoe at the college fails to recognize the narrator as a bright young man with a promising future when he sabotages his venture to New York with false letters of recommendation. Once in New York, the narrator has numerous experiences with people, both black and white, who fail to see him as he really is.

Color is the primary cause of his invisibility. When others see him as a black man, they limit his ability to perform successfully in society and to contribute in ways he wants. As a result, the narrator withdraws to his "hole" and lives in isolation while he ponders his next move.

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Invisible Man

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