Epilogue Summary and Analysis

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Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 422

Summary
The narrator has told his story, and asks us what else he could have done. The narrator says that he has taken some time out, drank liquor, dreamed, and read books. He uses the word “hibernation” to describe his current status.

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He still thinks about his grandfather and the deathbed advice, wrestling with what the man meant, and with how to put the advice into practice. The narrator says he is pondering the lessons of his life. He will leave it up to others to decide whether or not he understood history correctly. He wonders about responsibility for history, and about how people can save themselves.

The one specific incident that the narrator talks about is having met Mr. Norton in the subway. Their meeting is brief and, at least for Mr. Norton, disturbing. He does not recognize the narrator, is confused about how the narrator knows his name, and, most of all, has no idea what the narrator means by accusing Mr. Norton of being this man’s destiny. Mr. Norton ducks into an available subway car, and the narrator gets a big laugh from it. Then he goes back to his unnoticed home and continues being lost in his thoughts.

Analysis
Like the Prologue, the Epilogue takes place inside the narrator’s head. It is his last chance to explain his life and his choices. He gives the impression that he feels he made no choices, because history put him where he is.

If we were to meet the narrator, or someone like him, on a city street, we would be likely to assume that the person is mentally disturbed. As we have seen, characters in the novel are frequently accused of being “crazy” for what they say, when in fact there may be other explanations for their words.

Mr. Norton is perplexed by being told that he is the narrator’s destiny. Of course, the narrator is merely referring to something that Mr. Norton himself had said. Time has passed, but when we think about it and try to actually figure out time in the novel, we realize that not a great many years have passed since Mr. Norton and the narrator were in the same car on that southern campus.

Towards the end of the Epilogue, the narrator mentions that he has been writing it all down, which explains the book we have been reading. He goes on to predict that invisibility is universal, and to suggest that, in some way, he is speaking for the reader.

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