Invisible Man: Top Ten Quotes

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  1. "I am an invisible man." (p. 3)
    The protagonist opens the novel with this line, which serves to begin his discussion on his feelings of invisibility.
  2. "Live with your head in the lion's mouth. I want you to overcome 'em with yeses, undermine 'em with grins, agree 'em to death and destruction, let 'em swoller you till they vomit or bust wide open." (p.16)
    This is part of the grandfather's deathbed speech. These words echo throughout the narrative.
  3. "Cast down your bucket where you are." (p. 29)
    Here, the protagonist is delivering his speech before the white businessmen after the Battle Royal. He is quoting Booker T. Washington.
  4. "Then in my mind's eye I see the bronze statue of the college Founder, the cold Father symbol, his hands outstretched in the breathtaking gesture of lifting a veil that flutters in hard, metallic folds above the face of a kneeling slave; and I am standing puzzled, unable to decide whether the veil is really being lifted, or lowered more firmly in place; whether I am witnessing a revelation or a more efficient blinding." (p. 36)
    The protagonist makes this statement when reflecting back on his college and a statue that he remembers well.
  5. "But once a man gits hisself in a tight spot like that there ain't much he can do." (p. 59)
    Jim Trueblood makes this statement when discussing his sexual assault of his daughter.
  6. "When you buck against me, you're bucking against power, rich white folk's power, the nation's power - which means government power!" (p. 142)
    This statement is made by Dr. Bledsoe when he chides the protagonist for showing Mr. Norton the poorer sides of town.
  7. "You're hidden right out in the open - that is, you would be only if you realized it." (p. 154)
    The veteran doctor from the Golden Day makes this statement to the protagonist. It foreshadows the notion of invisibility that the protagonist will come to learn.
  8. "In fact, I'maseventhsonofaseventhsonbawnwithacauloverbotheyesandraisedonblackcatbone highjohntheconquerorandgreasygreens-" (p. 176)
    The bluesman on the street says this to the protagonist. These are lines from rhymes passed down in African American lore.
  9. "I suppose sometimes a man has to plunge outside history . . ." (p. 377)
    Tod Clifton speaks to a fellow member of the Brotherhood.
  10. Who knows but that, on the lower frequencies, I speak for you?" (p. 581)
    The protagonist ends the novel with these words. They are significant because they call into question who the actual audience is for this novel.

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