Why does young Mr. Emerson show Invisible Man the contents of the letters from Dr. Bledsoe? Why does Invisible Man distrust his offers of friendship?

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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After the narrator is made to leave the college, he carries with him to New York the deception that Dr. Bledsoe has written the seven letters of recommendation on his behalf so that he can find work and return to the college. Having heard nothing from any of the businesses to which he has applied, the narrator comes for an interview with his last letter in Chapter 6. After he is brought into the office of Mr. Emerson, however, he has an odd exchange with the young man who remarks pointedly that sometimes ambition blinds a person to realities. Reflectively, he emits, "You see--well, I'm a thwarted..." but stops and apologizes for his selfish thought. Then, he says that "there is a tyranny involved...." and he wishes to disabuse the narrator of his belief that the letters from Bledsoe will help him:

"...this world you're trying to contact--all its virtues and all its unspeakables...."

He tells the narrator that he is trying to be his friend,

"...do you believe it possible for us, the two of us, to throw off the mask of custom and manners that insulate man from man, and converse in naked honesty and frankness?"

Young Mr. Emerson, whose friends are jazz musicians, is  truly sympathetic to the narrator and feels that he should not let him be disillusioned about reality, so he shows him Dr. Bledsoe's letter so that the narrator will understand the man's treachery, his "tyranny."

The narrator is reluctant to believe Emerson's offer of friendship and honesty because of his childhood and the echoing in his mind of his grandfather's words to him,

Don't let no white man tell you his business, 'cause after he tells you he's liable to git shame he tole it to you and then he'll hate you. Fact is, he was hating you all the time....

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