Invisible Man Chapter 13 Summary and Analysis

Ralph Ellison

Chapter 13 Summary and Analysis

New Character
Brother Jack: the first member of the Brotherhood, a group the narrator becomes involved with

Summary
While walking the streets, the narrator finds a man selling yams (sweet potatoes) from a cart. The moment the narrator bites into one, he feels homesick. Yet he also feels far better than he had before, and he returns to buy two more yams. Immediately afterward, the narrator becomes involved in a dispute when he sees the eviction of an old black couple. To avoid violence, the narrator gives an impromptu speech, which has a great impact on the crowd. When many police arrive, and a riot looks imminent, the narrator escapes with the help of a white girl.

Soon afterward, a man approaches the narrator and suggests that they talk. Although quite suspicious, the narrator meets with Brother Jack, as the man calls himself. The narrator learns that the movement is interested in universal brotherhood, yet the narrator himself is not at all sure that he shares this point of view—his loyalties are determined by race.

The narrator is left to consider his options.

Analysis
The narrator shows more emotion, especially positive emotion, in this chapter. Having endured many misfortunes, he is learning more and more about himself. He feels a new vitality when he pursues what he cares about—foods that he enjoys eating, and public speaking, a subject with which the narrator has had several important experiences.

The narrator spoke to avoid violence, and was able to speak movingly because he cared deeply about his subject. The narrator’s success in public speaking reaches back to the first chapter; it is the one subject where his natural talent has been recognized by others. The fact that his talent in this area was immediately recognized opens new doors for the narrator.