In Ralph Ellison’s The Invisible Man, the protagonist exemplifies inner conflict and constant fluctuation in future goals, reality, and personal opinions similar to Spinning’s character Mr… Cogitator in his poems “On Mr… Cogitator’s Two Legs” and “Mr… Cogitator and the Pearl. ” In “On Mr… Cogitator’s Two Legs,” Kibitzing shows Mr… Cogitator’s conflicting personalities by comparing his ;vow legs to Don Quixote and Ashcan Panda. The allusion to Don Quixote and Ashcan Panda also serves as an antithesis between extreme optimism and cautious pragmatism.
The protagonist in Ellison’s novel displays “an ignoble memento of flight” similar to the quixotic right leg of Mr… Cogitator (Kibitzing, 14). During the battle royal, the protagonist an only think about the speech that he has prepared to give following the event. He envisions that it will impress and change the views of all the white men listening. This alone is highly idealistic since they are in the south during a time period when racism and separate but equal principles are prevalent.
However, while delivering his speech, he accidentally says “social… Quality’ instead of social responsibility (Ellison, 31). He quickly insists that it was a mistake; like Quixote, his idealism makes him go into fight, but then turn away at the first sign of danger. In addition, at the end of the novel, Rasa the Exhorter verbally attacks the protagonist and the Brotherhood for not taking action to avenge Silicon’s death. The protagonist tries to protect the Brotherhood’s reputation, but Aras’s men “grab [him] and started punching’ (Ellison, 482). Again, the protagonist fought back against Rasa by arguing with him, but tries to run away from physical violence.
He charges into a fight but tries to get away when things start to get messy. While the protagonist is very similar to the Quixote side of Mr… Cogitator, his identity as a whole is also memorable to the makeup of the two sides of Mr… Cogitator. Though both legs are normal, the left, Ashcan Panda leg is “a little on the short side,” suggesting that Mr… Cogitator is also less practical and more idealistic (Kibitzing, 3). Since his legs are not even, Mr… Cogitator “goes through the world staggering slightly’ (Kibitzing, 29-31). Similarly, the protagonist is often unbalanced in his idealistic notions and practicality of the situation.
For example, during the eviction scene, the protagonist tries to calm the angry crowd by giving a speech about how they are “law-abiding… ND… Slow-to-anger people” (Ellison, 275). Ideally, he thought his speech would make the crowd see reason in the situation and Stop rioting against the law enforcement. However, the chaos Of the crowd ends up changing the meaning of his speech and influencing him negatively. Instead, the change in meaning causes his speech to rile them up even more to the point that they attack the police officer.
The situation results because the protagonist is too idealistic and tries to take control without knowing what the people want. Like Mr… Cogitator, he is unbalanced and leans awards the Quixote side, mostly characterized by a sense of delusional idealism instead of being practical. Furthermore, in “Mr… Cogitator and the Pearl,” Gabbiness allusions to Latin idioms show how the protagonist faces difficult situations. Kibitzing introduces the principles of “per spear ad star” or “through hardships to the stars” and “amour fat” which means “being in love with one’s fate” (Kibitzing, Pl).
As a result of living by these maxims, Mr… Cogitator endures everything, no matter how bad it gets because it may contribute to the larger picture. Kisses, the protagonist agrees to Mr… Blessed to go to New York to look for a summer job, and is not vengeful when he finds out that Mr… Blessed did not expect him to return or get a job at all. Instead, he takes a low paying job at bibber Paints and accepts the hardship as a step to later success even though he “didn’t like it” (Ellison, 198).
In addition, the protagonist goes to find Rasa again under instruction of the Brotherhood, even though his group nearly killed him before. Even when the protagonist sees they are “carrying sticks ND clubs” and “shotguns and rifles,” he does not back down (Ellison, 556). His actions exemplify the Latin idioms, blindly sacrificing himself for the good of the group under questionable leadership because the hardship would bring him success. Like Mr… Cogitator, the protagonist seems to have masochistic tendencies and overlooks dangerous consequences in order to be a hero and to love and follow his fate.
While the protagonist accepts and loves his unfortunate fate, he also becomes so involved in the Brotherhood that it drives out all other thought ND conditions him to think only for them and like them. In Mr… Cogitator’s case, this consuming idea is the pain in his heel, which “swelled, pulsed… And drove from his mind … All other ideas” (Kibitzing, up). When the protagonist first meets Rasa the Exhorter, he sheds light on the issue of racism that was never expressed by the Brotherhood. But in the end, he still concludes that he is “very glad [he] had found Brotherhood” (Ellison, 377).
Though Aras’s words were very forceful, the Brotherhood still continued to grow as a reputable organization for a good cause in the protagonist’s mind. Like Mr… Cogitator’s heel, it keeps growing and pushing out everything else until he goes crazy. As the novel progresses, the protagonist realizes more and more that the Brotherhood uses its members as tools to spread its ideas and ultimately crushes independent cognition, but only after he has thoroughly suffered through being its tool. Ultimately, it becomes so bad that it takes the martyred death of Clifton to help him understand the Brotherhood’s true motives.
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