Chapter 16 Summary

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That evening, Brother Jack picked the narrator up in a taxi and took him to a new venue. They would wait in a separate room, he learned, until the event filled up, and make an appearance onstage at a strategic moment. When summoned, the narrator would deliver a speech to the room.

As he waited, the narrator considered his fancy new suit and how new clothes could bring a transformative newness with them. Overwhelmed by this newness in conjunction with his new identity, and the severing of all ties to his old life, he stepped outside to get some air. He saw three mounted policemen and wondered whether he ought to report this to Brother Jack. Heading back inside, he was reassured to hear that the cops stationed outside were supposed to protect them.

The speeches began, and the narrator listened as fellow orators spoke about economics, politics, and the community’s children. When his turn arrived, he stepped out onstage and found himself blinded by the spotlight, unable to see the waiting audience. Confused when he needed to adjust the microphone, he made a joke to stall for time and was grateful when the audience laughed.

His speech ebbed and flowed, and the narrator gained and lost the audience’s favor several times. By the end he seemed to have recovered well, and he received loud applause, but he was dismayed to learn that many Brotherhood members thought he was unsatisfactory. The members argued among themselves about his success or failure, and Brother Jack was incensed when someone insisted the speech was inaccurate and dangerous.

The group decided the narrator needed further training, and he was assigned to spend the next several months studying under an established community member named Brother Hambro. Realizing that his oration technique had changed, and that he believed what he said even if he didn’t really mean to say any of it, the narrator contemplated how much he had changed since being sent away by Dr. Bledsdoe. Intent on leveraging his new position to facilitate actual change, he became impatient to complete his training and get to work.

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Chapter 15 Summary


Chapter 17 Summary