Invisible Man: Novel Summary: Chapters 5-7
The next chapter begins with large groups of students walking to the chapel for church service. This particular service is dedicated to celebrating Founder's Day at the college. During this time the protagonist is reflecting on Dr. Bledsoe and his role in the college. He tells about the legend that has sprung up about Bledsoe's life and career. He had first come as a barefoot boy who was desperately eager to have an education and had walked carrying a ragged bundle of clothing across two states. He started with a very humble job, became office boy to the founder, and worked his way to the top through many years of hard work.
A reverend from Chicago, IL, Homer A. Barbee, recounts the life of the founder in vivid detail, chronicling everything all the way up to his death. The protagonist also realizes that Barbee is blind. While the sermon is going on, the protagonist is overcome with the fear of his impending meeting with Dr. Bledsoe, so he hurries out of the chapel in spite of the evident disapproval of the teachers and matrons surrounding him.
After chapel is over, the protagonist meets with Dr Bledsoe, who chides the protagonist for his naivety and for not lying to Mr. Norton in order to avoid stopping at the slave quarters and the Golden Day. He also inquires about the veteran who confronted Norton and makes an off-hand statement that someone like this veteran should be under lock and key.
Dr. Bledsoe then informs the protagonist that he will be kicked out of the school even though he promised Mr. Norton otherwise. Dismayed, the protagonist threatens to tell this to Mr. Norton thus causing Bledsoe to revise his decision. Instead, he decides to send him away to New York City for the summer to earn the money for next year's fees. Dr. Bledsoe also promises him letters to give to various businessmen who support the college so that the protagonist can easily find work. Bledsoe informs him that he must leave in two days. During this waiting period, and after seeing a different side of Dr. Bledsoe, the protagonist reflects on his grandfather's words. He decides to leave the next morning, to Bledsoe's surprise. They speak one last time and the protagonist apologizes for all that has happened. He also expresses that he is in agreement with his punishment. Bledsoe appears pleased, prepares seven letters of introduction and instructs the protagonist not to open them.
The protagonist boards the bus for New York City and sees the same veteran doctor from the Golden Day with an attendant named Crenshaw. Because segregation law dictates that they must sit at the back of the bus, the protagonist and the vet sit near each other. The vet begins to talk to him about the north. He also suggests that his chiding of Mr. Norton is what has caused him to finally get his long desired transfer to Washington, D.C. He advises the boy to play the game but to not believe in it. He also gives him parting advice before he changes buses for Washington.
The protagonist arrives in New York City full of hope. He marvels at the city and the number of blacks who live there. He also stumbles upon a public rally led by a man named Ras. The chapter ends with the protagonist seeking directions to Men's House, a temporary housing area for those in transit. He arrives there and begins to settle in.
Here, we see some of the traditions that occur on the protagonist's campus. The theme of blindness is also at work in these chapters. The Founder's Day speech demonstrates the blind allegiance to the principles of the school and the campus's founder because it was delivered by Homer A. Barbee, a blind minister. Also, Dr. Bledsoe's rage and disciplining of the protagonist for his actions with Mr. Norton demonstrate that power and the pursuit of it to cause one to be blind. It is significant also that the veteran and the protagonist leave on the same bus. It demonstrates Dr. Bledsoe's influence and determination to preserve the college's image.