Various literary techniques were used in this novel, including symbols, allusions, irony, and motifs.
According to The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition, symbolism is the practice of representing things by means of symbols or of attributing symbolic meanings or significance to objects, events, or relationships. This device is used throughout the novel. The erotic dance of the naked blonde (p.19 Invisible Man) represents the distorted value system of America. The American dream of freedom, liberty and equality (symbolized by the flag tattoo) has been replaced by the pursuit of money, sex and power (symbolized by the car advertising tokens.
The car the narrator drove as Norton's driver (Chapter 2 Invisible Man) symbolizes power. Although the narrator is the person driving, the person in control is Mr. Norton. The narrator exaggerates his power as Norton's driver, but really, all the power he has is that which is given to him by Mr.
Norton. This scene suggests that a black college controlled by white trustees is really under the control of whites.
The link that was part of the chain imprisoning Brother Tarp (p.388, Invisible Man) symbolizes his escape from prison as well as his escape from mental slavery. This is in sharp contrast to the unbroken chain on Dr. Bledsoe's desk, a reminder of his continued enslavement to power and materialism.
According to WorldNet, a motif is a unifying idea that is a recurrent element in a literary or artistic work. Motifs are also used in the novel. The dream serves as a motif that is echoed over and over in the novel. The narrator dreams that his scholarship to a black college is merely a note reading "keep this nigger boy running;" (p.33 Invisible Man) his unconscious seems to be telling him that his faith...