What does the phrase "Who knows but that on the lower frequencies, I speak for you" mean in Invisible Man?

Quick answer:

The statement "Who knows but that, on the lower frequencies, I speak for you?" means that the narrator realizes that many of his readers may also feel invisible or have been rendered invisible by society. By implication, the narrator suggests that just as he may still have a "socially responsible role to play," so may any of his similarly invisible readers.

Expert Answers

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

This statement ends the narrator's long rumination on his invisible, underground status in the epilogue of the novel. In saying "Who knows but that ... I speak for you," the narrator draws readers into his story, particularly those who have been made to feel invisible by society. These people may have not been seen for who they really are, may have been pressured into conforming, and may have been rejected. They may have faced the choice between the invisibility of conformity and the invisibility of going underground rather than conforming to a false or destructive narrative.

Like the narrator, readers also may have been

hurt to the point of abysmal pain, hurt to the point of invisibility.

Yet in drawing readers in, the narrator includes them in his hope. He defends his invisibility:

because in spite of all I find that I love.

He "defends" invisibility in this way because it can keep people humane, allowing them to experience and understand that

Life is to be lived, not controlled; and humanity is won by continuing to play in face of certain defeat.

It is in this outlook on life that the narrator considers emerging from his "hibernation," emerging from the underground, saying,

there's a possibility that even an invisible man has a socially responsible role to play.

By making his last sentence one in which he "speaks" for readers who have been rendered invisible by society, the narrator universalizes his story and presents hope that those invisible people can still love despite pain, still stay in the game despite knowing they can't win, and still be capable of playing a socially responsible role that may somehow change culture for the better.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial