Invisible Man: Novel Summary: Chapters 21-23
The protagonist is still contemplating Clifton's death and is unprepared to let the youth members who looked up to Clifton know that he is dead. He arrives at his office and looks at the Sambo doll that he has taken from the scene. He looks upon the doll with hatred and feels great regret over not doing more to save Clifton. In order to make some amends for this, he resolves to give Clifton a public funeral and to spread the message of how he died. He does this in order to avenge him, present him as a cautionary tale and restore his integrity. He publishes the story of Clifton's death in the newspaper. A large number of people come out to the funeral and the protagonist delivers a rousing speech; however, he is disappointed with himself because he didn't make the speech political enough. After the burial, he is unsettled and feels that something more needed to be done.
The chapter opens with a meeting of the Brotherhood. They are displeased with the protagonist's actions and his handling of Tod Clifton's death. They feel Clifton was a traitor and that he didn't deserve a funeral of such magnitude. The protagonist disagrees and expresses that Clifton's selling of the dolls doesn't justify his murder. There are heated exchanges between him and Brother Tobitt and during this Jack informs the protagonist that he was not hired to think but to talk. The protagonist begins to realize why the people of Harlem feel betrayed by the Brotherhood. He lashes out at Jack and Jack in turn lunges at him, causing his glass eye to fall out of its socket. The protagonist realizes that Jack neither literally nor figuratively sees him because of his impaired vision. In spite of the heated exchange, Jack consoles the protagonist in his realization that he is not an autonomous person but an agent of the Brotherhood and tells him that he still has much to learn. The protagonist feels hopeless at this point but doesn't know any alternative. He feels that part of him has died with Tod Clifton.
The protagonist returns to Harlem and people are still up in arms about Tod Clifton's death. On the street, Ras the Exhorter challenges him and asks him what the Brotherhood will be doing about the killing. The protagonist defends the Brotherhood and Ras and his men begin to physically threaten him. In order to protect himself, the protagonist purchases a pair of dark sunglasses and a hat for purposes of disguising himself. This disguise works well. It also causes him to be mistaken for a man named Rinehart who has multiple identities ranging from "numbers runner" (someone who collects wagers on certain numbers and distributes the payoffs when the winning numbers are announced), lover, and minister. It opens the protagonist to the possibilities of determining one's identity and the extent to which one can be invisible to others.
The protagonist goes to Hambro's in order to receive guidance on the situation he is facing, and to his disappointment, Hambro lectures him on sacrifice. The protagonist disagrees with him and feels that to not fight the injustice of Clifton's death would be betrayal. After the conversation with Hambro, the protagonist is disappointed with the Brotherhood and decides upon revenge. He plans to act in the spirit of his grandfather and agree with the Brotherhood until he destroys the organization. He plots to find a woman in the organization that he can use to receive information that is being withheld from him.
In these sections, the protagonist experiences somewhat of a redemption. In planning Tod Clifton's funeral and working to make sure he does not die unknown or that the causes for his death are not known, he feels rejuvenated, and the people of Harlem begin to support him again.
However, he is alienated by the Brotherhood and chided for his lack of discipline. This section signals the final break with the Brotherhood and his decision to take his grandfather's advice and agree with the men of the Brotherhood to their death and destruction.