Invisible Man: Novel Summary: Chapters 24-25
While it pains him to see Harlem fall apart, the protagonist enacts his plan by deceiving the Brotherhood and making them feel as if everything is going well in Harlem. He also attends Jack's birthday party at the Chthonian. He meets Sybil, the wife of one of the more powerful leaders, and intends to use her as his informant. They go back to his apartment and he clumsily attempts to seduce her. During this interaction, Sybil tells a story about a friend of hers who was raped by a black man and she reveals to the protagonist that in some ways she desired to be raped like her friend was. Seeing that the situation is a poor one, the protagonist serves Sybil drinks until she is intoxicated and attempts to pry information from her. He realizes that this is a useless attempt and eventually gets her into a cab and he returns to Harlem.
The protagonist arrives in Harlem and sees the chaos that has erupted. He is hit by a bullet and is slightly injured. Bystanders attempt to help him. Around him, there is rioting and he joins with a group who is attempting to burn their tenement building down. People begin to recognize him and Ras also sees him. Ras is now dressed in an elaborate costume of an Abyssinian chieftain and is riding on a black horse. He confronts the protagonist, and at this point the protagonist denies affiliation with the Brotherhood; however Ras insists on persecuting him. He calls for his hanging. In defense, the protagonist throws a spear back at Ras that the other man had thrown at him earlier. It pierces Ras and the protagonist flees the scene. This leads to more danger because he then encounters a group of men who chase him to find out what is in his briefcase. In order to escape, the protagonist jumps into an open manhole.
Once he escapes into the manhole, he falls into a deep sleep. He wakes and realizes that he is still underground but completely in the dark. In order to have light, he burns everything in his briefcase-his high school diploma, Clifton's doll, the anonymous letter, and his Brotherhood name. He also realizes that the handwriting on the anonymous letter and the Brotherhood name are the same and that they belong to Jack. The protagonist resolves to survive this experience.
At the end of this chapter, the protagonist has a dream in which he is a prisoner of all those who have attempted to define him. The protagonist proclaims that he is done with illusion, and to this Jack asks in response, "How does it feel to be free of illusion. . .". The protagonist retorts that he is no longer afraid. The dream ends with an iron robot trudging along.
He awakes and resolves to stay underground to think things through.
This section brings an end to a very long struggle for the protagonist. The encounter with Sybil demonstrates to him that he will always be seen for something other than who or what he is. Sybil sees him as a rapist, the Brotherhood desires that he be a puppet, and he can't seem to articulate his identity in the midst of the chaos literally happening in Harlem and the chaos he is experiencing mentally by not being able to define himself. His journey underground brings to a close his attempts to negotiate life in a world that seeks to tell him who he is and who he should be.