Invisible Man, Mr. Norton and White Supremacy

Essay by ecroc9College, UndergraduateB+, November 2014

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Mr. Norton and White Supremacy

Mr. Norton's character in Invisible Man serves as an example of a different breed of racist whites. These people felt blacks were incapable of self-reliance. Although they did not express their views outright, they felt blacks needed not only a helping hand, but also the controlling hand of whites. These people act as a sort of "white savior." Their racism stems from a need to be superior but also a longing to control the black man's fate. The sort of racism Mr. Norton's character reflects represents control, paternalism, superiority vs. inferiority, the idea of the white Northern liberal, and how this relates to the student's of black colleges. It can be argued that the life outcome of many black students is a direct product of white supremacy.

Norton's attitude towards Invisible and their conduct towards each other suggests a father-son relationship. When Norton talks to Invisible, his tone is filled with superiority and control, yet he seems to be greatly concerned with Invisible's well being.

This is exemplified when Norton tells Invisible, "Whatever you become, and even if you fail, you are my fate. And you must write me and tell me the outcome." The attention he shows Invisible gives Norton a paternal quality, and reinforces his role as a paternalistic black controller. Invisible views Norton as a kind of healing, rescuing, great white father. He will do anything not to disappoint him. For example, after the Golden Day incident, Invisible "wanted to stop the car and talk with Mr. Norton, to beg his pardon for what he had seen; to plead and show him tears, unashamed tears like those of a child before his parent…"[-1: Ellison, Ralph. "Chapter two, Chapter three." In Invisible man. 2nd Vintage International ed. New York: Vintage International,