What happens at the Golden Day in Invisible Man?

At the Golden Day bar in Invisible Man, Mr. Norton has a reviving drink and is whisked upstairs, away from a fight, to be treated by the vet. The vet confronts Mr. Norton with the reality of racism and challenges the idea that the college is doing anything more than perpetrating Black inferiority.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Mr. Norton's shock continue in the Golden Day, a bar and brothel where the narrator brings him after the older man insists he needs a drink following the shock of meeting the incestuous Jim Trueblood. The narrator leaves Mr. Norton in front of the bar as he goes inside to get him a drink. Nobody will provide this, but when the narrator goes back out to the car to find that Mr. Norton has fainted, the white man is brought into the bar, given a drink, and revived—only to witness a brawl. To protect him from the fighting, people bring him to a room upstairs, where he is treated by a Black doctor called "the vet."

Mr. Norton is impressed that the vet can diagnosis his condition as well as his highly paid doctors and wonders why he is wasting himself in a backwater. Here, he is confronted with the reality of racism. The vet says he offered his skills and was beaten up for his efforts: his talent combined with his race was too much of a threat to be tolerated.

The vet continues to confront Mr. Norton—and the narrator—with reality. He says that the school is only creating an illusion of helping Black people and is instead creating a generation of docile, subservient people who will uphold the status quo.

As the novel emphasizes, the last thing a rich white man like Mr. Norton wants is to have the veil ripped away from his illusions and his self-satisfaction about being a do-gooder working for racial betterment. The inadvertently comic day, including the Golden Day visit, angers and rattles Mr. Norton, and the narrator will pay.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team