Why did white people help Trueblood more after his disgrace than before his crime?

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Trueblood's horrific story of impregnating his daughter confirms Mr. Norton's and other white people's assumptions about black men. Singing spirituals and working his small piece of land has kept Trueblood impoverished and nearly desperate. Were he not, he may not have needed to lie so close to his daughter in the cold night.

Norton's attentive listening to Trueblood's story allows him to vicariously enjoy his own sexual fantasy toward his own daughter. While Norton did not sleep with his daughter, who has now died, his language in describing her is as much erotic as it is paternal. Norton's physical reaction to Trueblood suggests that he is shocked that Trueblood could have performed this incestuous act that the white community thought impossible:

"You did and are unharmed!" he shouted, his blue eyes blazing into the black face with something like envy and indignation. . . . "You have looked upon chaos and are not destroyed!" (51)

This admixture of admiration and horror lies behind other white people's willingness to support the "bestial" black man of their own imagination, who acts out their darkest fantasies. They pay Trueblood both for the pleasure they take in hearing his story and for the comfort they take in believing that this story confirms the distance between whiteness and blackness.

It's important to note that the novel offers repeated instances of the speaking motif and the control of black speech by privileged white men. The invisible man's own Battle Royal speech carries a similar sadistic quality to it, and its conformity to white expectations is also compensated in monetary terms.

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In Invisible Man, Chapter Two follows the narrator's journey as he drives one of the college's white benefactors, Mr. Norton, to visit the seemingly shameful symbol of black culture in the deep South: the old slave quarters, namely Trueblood's cabin.

Jim Trueblood is the poor sharecropper who tells Mr. Norton a story of how he became the father of both his wife and his daughter's children.  The story obviously has mythological and psychoanalytic overtures, as it is a modern retelling of the Oedipus story and a case study in Freud's Oedipus Complex.  Oedipus also married his mother an had four children with her, which were also his siblings, much like Trueblood's incestuous dreams here.

Mr. Norton is living vicariously through the Trueblood story.  He is paying for a salacious story, a kind of prostitution.  Moreover, Mr. Norton is being tricked here by a master storyteller.  Ellison makes it clear that whites have come to Trueblood several times to hear the story, each time paying him afterwards.  Are they paying him as a storyteller, or are they paying him because of some repressed sexual or racial guilt?

Trueblood is not only a master storyteller, the same way Sophocles was in his rendition of the Oedipus story, but he is also a kind of con man; he dupes all these white people out of money.  It is doubtful that the story is true, but Trueblood plays upon white guilt by exposing the seemingly believable and shameful realities of what slavery has done.

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