ENG 242 Northern Virginia Chapter 1 Ralph Ellison from Invisible Man Analysis For today, you are reading the excerpt from Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man (pa

ENG 242 Northern Virginia Chapter 1 Ralph Ellison from Invisible Man Analysis For today, you are reading the excerpt from Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man (pages 1209-1220) in your anthologies. After reading this, please download the document “Ellison and Song/Music Video Analysis” posted here in our usual module. Please answer the revision questions for Ellison’s piece. Please make sure to write in complete sentences and also include evidence from the text. Also, please listen to the song “Immigrants, We Get The Job Done” and watch the music video accompanying it (link to song is included on document). The lyrics are written out for you on this sheet. Afterwards, please answer the revision questions for this song and music video. English 242: Survey of American Literature II
April 21, 2020
Analysis of Ralph Ellison’s Section from Invisible Man and Song Analyses
Questions Related to Ralph Ellison’s From Invisible Man: Chapter 1
1. In this excerpt “Chapter 1” from Invisible Man, what is Ellison wanting us as readers to
change or revise our thinking about? Why? Make sure to give examples from the text to
back up your responses.
2. Also, what would Ellison want us as readers to do after reading this excerpt from his novel?
Questions Related to “Immigrants, We Get The Job Done” (lyrics are below, also please
watch video which can be found here: https://youtu.be/6_35a7sn6ds)
In this song and video, what do the artists want us to revise or change our thinking about?
Why? Make sure to give examples from the lyrics and music video to back up your point.
2. Also, what would the artists of the song want us to do after listening to and viewing this
video? Why?
“Immigrants, We Get the Job Done” from The Hamilton Mixtape (2016)
[Intro.- J. Period]
You know, and it gets into this whole issue of border security
You know, who’s gonna say that the borders are secure?
We’ve got the House and the Senate debating this issue
And it’s, it’s really astonishing that in a country founded by immigrants
“Immigrant” has somehow become a bad word
So the debate rages on and we continue
And just like that it’s over, we tend to our wounded, we count our dead
Black and white soldiers wonder alike if this really means freedom
Not yet
[Verse 1: K’naan]
I got one job, two job, three when I need them
I got five roommates in this one studio, but I never really see them
And we all came America trying to get a lap dance from Lady Freedom
But now Lady Liberty is acting like Hilary Banks with a pre-nup
Man, I was brave, sailing on graves
Don’t think I didn’t notice those tombstones disguised as waves
I’m no dummy, here is something funny, you can be an immigrant without risking your lives
Or crossing these borders with thrifty supplies
All you got to do is see the world with new eyes
Immigrants, we get the job done
Look how far I come
Look how far I come
Look how far I come
We get the job done
Look how far I come
Look how far I come
Look how far I come
Immigrants, we get the job done
[Snow tha Product: Verse 2]
It’s a hard line when you’re an import
Baby boy, it’s hard times
When you ain’t sent for
Racists feed the belly of the beast
With they pitchforks, rich chores
Done by the people that get ignored
Ya se armó
Ya se despertaron
It’s a whole awakening
La alarma ya sonó hace rato
Los que quieren buscan
Pero nos apodan como vagos
We are the same ones
Hustling on every level
Ten los datos
Walk a mile in our shoes
Abróchense los zapatos
I been scoping ya dudes, ya’ll ain’t been working like I do
I’ll outwork you, it hurts you
You claim I’m stealing jobs though
Peter Piper claimed he picked them, he just underpaid Pablo
But there ain’t a paper trail when you living in the shadows
We’re America’s ghost writers, the credit’s only borrowed
It’s a matter of time before the checks all come
Immigrants, we get the job done
Look how far I come
Look how far I come
Look how far I come
We get the job done
Look how far I come
Look how far I come
Look how far I come
Immigrants, we get the job
Not yet
The credit is only borrowed
It’s America’s ghost writers, the credit’s only borrowed
It’s America’s ghost writers
America’s ghost writers
America’s ghost writers, the credit’s only borrow-borrowed
It’s America’s ghost writers, a credit is only borrowed
It’s America’s ghost writers, a credit is only borrowed
It’s America’s ghost writers, a credit is only borrowed
Immigrants, we get the job done
[Riz MC Verse 3]:
Ay yo aye, immigrants we don’t like that
Na they don’t play British empire strikes back
They beating us like 808’s and high hats
At our own game of invasion, but this ain’t Iraq
Who these fugees what did they do for me
But contribute new dreams
Taxes and tools, swagger and food to eat
Cool, they flee war zones, but the problem ain’t ours
Even if our bombs landed on them like the Mayflower
Buckingham Palace or Capitol Hill
Blood of my ancestors had that all built
It’s the ink you print on your dollar bill, oil you spill
Thin red lines on the flag you hoist when you kill
But still we just say “look how far I come”
Hindustan, Pakistan, to London
To a galaxy far from their ignorance
Immigrants, we get the job done
[Residente Verse 4]:
Por tierra o por agua
Identidad falsa
Brincamos muros o flotamos en balsas
La peleamos como Sandino en Nicaragua
Somos como las plantas que crecen sin agua
Sin pasaporte americano
Porque la mitad de gringolandia es terreno mexicano
Hay que ser bien hijo de puta
Nosotros les sembramos el árbol y ellos se comen la frutas
Somos los que cruzaron
Aquí vinimos a buscar el oro que nos robaron
Tenemos mas trucos que la policía secreta
Metimos la casa completa en una maleta
Con un pico, una pala
Y un rastrillo
Te construimos un castillo
Como es que dice el coro cabrón?
Immigrants, we get the job done
Look how far I come
Look how far I come
Look how far I come
We get the job done
Look how far I come
Look how far I come
Look how far I come
Immigrants, we get the job done
Look how far I come
Look how far I come
Look how far I come
Immigrants, we get the job done
Not yet
Chapter 1
It goes a long way back, some twenty years. All my life I had been looking for something, and
everywhere I turned someone tried to tell me what it was. I accepted their answers too, though they
were often in contradiction and even self-contradictory. I was na?e. I was looking for myself and asking
everyone except myself questions which I, and only I, could answer. It took me a long time and much
painful boomeranging of my expectations to achieve a realization everyone else appears to have been
born with: That I am nobody but myself. But first I had to discover that I am an invisible man! And yet I
am no freak of nature, nor of history. I was in the cards, other things having been equal (or unequal)
eighty-five years ago. I am not ashamed of my grandparents for having been slaves. I am only ashamed
of myself for having at one time been ashamed. About eighty-five years ago they were told that they
were free, united with others of our country in everything pertaining to the common good, and, in
everything social, separate like the fingers of the hand. And they believed it. They exulted in it. They
stayed in their place, worked hard, and brought up my father to do the same. But my grandfather is the
one. He was an odd old guy, my grandfather, and I am told I take after him. It was he who caused the
trouble. On his deathbed he called my father to him and said, “Son, after I’m gone I want you to keep up
the good fight. I never told you, but our life is a war and I have been a traitor all my born days, a spy in
the enemy’s country ever since I give up my gun back in the Reconstruction. 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.” They thought the old man had gone
out of his mind. He had been the meekest of men. The younger children were rushed from the room,
the shades drawn and the flame of the lamp turned so low that it sputtered on the wick like the old
man’s breathing. “Learn it to the younguns,” he whispered fiercely; then he died. But my folks were
more alarmed over his last words than over his dying. It was as though he had not died at all, his words
caused so much anxiety. I was warned emphatically to forget what he had said and, indeed, this is the
first time it has been mentioned outside the family circle. It had a tremendous effect upon me, however.
I could never be sure of what he meant. Grandfather had been a quiet old man who never made any
trouble, yet on his deathbed he had called himself a traitor and a spy, and he had spoken of his
meekness as a dangerous activity. It became a constant puzzle which lay unanswered in the back of my
mind. And whenever things went well for me I remembered my grandfather and felt guilty and
uncomfortable. It was as though I was carrying out his advice in spite of myself. And to make it worse,
everyone loved me for it. I was praised by the most lily-white men of the town. I was considered an
example of desirable conduct — just as my grandfather had been. And what puzzled me was that the old
man had defined it as treachery. When I was praised for my conduct I felt a guilt that in some way I was
doing something that was really against the wishes of the white folks, that if they had understood they
would have desired me to act just the opposite, that I should have been sulky and mean, and that that
really would have been what they wanted, even though they were fooled and thought they wanted me
to act as I did. It made me afraid that some day they would look upon me as a traitor and I would be
lost. Still I was more afraid to act any other way because they didn’t like that at all. The old man’s words
were like a curse. On my graduation day I delivered an oration in which I showed that humility was the
secret, indeed, the very essence of progress. (Not that I believed this — how could I, remembering my
grandfather? — I only believed that it worked.) It was a great success. Everyone praised me and I was
invited to give the speech at a gathering of the town’s leading white citizens. It was a triumph for our
whole community. It was in the main ballroom of the leading hotel. When I got there I discovered that it
was on the occasion of a smoker, and I was told that since I was to be there anyway I might as well take
part in the battle royal to be fought by some of my schoolmates as part of the entertainment. The battle
royal came first. All of the town’s big shots were there in their tuxedoes, wolfing down the buffet foods,
drinking beer and whiskey and smoking black cigars. It was a large room with a high ceiling. Chairs were
arranged in neat rows around three sides of a portable boxing ring. The fourth side was clear, revealing
a gleaming space of polished floor. I had some misgivings over the battle royal, by the way. Not from a
distaste for fighting, but because I didn’t care too much for the other fellows who were to take part.
They were tough guys who seemed to have no grandfather’s curse worrying their minds. No one could
mistake their toughness. And besides, I suspected that fighting a battle royal might detract from the
dignity of my speech. In those pre-invisible days I visualized myself as a potential Booker T. Washington.
But the other fellows didn’t care too much for me either, and there were nine of them. I felt superior to
them in my way, and I didn’t like the manner in which we were all crowded together into the servants’
elevator. Nor did they like my being there. In fact, as the warmly lighted floors flashed past the elevator
we had words over the fact that I, by taking part in the fight, had knocked one of their friends out of a
night’s work. We were led out of the elevator through a rococo hall into an anteroom and told to get
into our fighting togs. Each of us was issued a pair of boxing gloves and ushered out into the big
mirrored hall, which we entered looking cautiously about us and whispering, lest we might accidentally
be heard above the noise of the room. It was foggy with cigar smoke. And already the whiskey was
taking effect. I was shocked to see some of the most important men of the town quite tipsy. They were
all there — bankers, lawyers, judges, doctors, fire chiefs, teachers, merchants. Even one of the more
fashionable pastors. Something we could not see was going on up front. A clarinet was vibrating
sensuously and the men were standing up and moving eagerly forward. We were a small tight group,
clustered together, our bare upper bodies touching and shining with anticipatory sweat; while up front
the big shots were becoming increasingly excited over something we still could not see. Suddenly I
heard the school superintendent, who had told me to come, yell, “Bring up the shines, gentlemen! Bring
up the little shines!” We were rushed up to the front of the ballroom, where it smelled even more
strongly of tobacco and whiskey. Then we were pushed into place. I almost wet my pants. A sea of faces,
some hostile, some amused, ringed around us, and in the center, facing us, stood a magnificent blonde – stark naked. There was dead silence. I felt a blast of cold air chill me. I tried to back away, but they
were behind me and around me. Some of the boys stood with lowered heads, trembling. I felt a wave of
irrational guilt and fear. My teeth chattered, my skin turned to goose flesh, my knees knocked. Yet I was
strongly attracted and looked in spite of myself. Had the price of looking been blindness, I would have
looked. The hair was yellow like that of a circus kewpie doll, the face heavily powdered and rouged, as
though to form an abstract mask, the eyes hollow and smeared a cool blue, the color of a baboon’s butt.
I felt a desire to spit upon her as my eyes brushed slowly over her body. Her breasts were firm and
round as the domes of East Indian temples, and I stood so close as to see the fine skin texture and beads
of pearly perspiration glistening like dew around the pink and erected buds of her nipples. I wanted at
one and the same time to run from the room, to sink through the floor, or go to her and cover her from
my eyes and the eyes of the others with my body; to feel the soft thighs, to caress her and destroy her,
to love her and murder her, to hide from her, and yet to stroke where below the small American flag
tattooed upon her belly her thighs formed a capital V. I had a notion that of all in the room she saw only
me with her impersonal eyes. And then she began to dance, a slow sensuous movement; the smoke of a
hundred cigars clinging to her like the thinnest of veils. She seemed like a fair bird-girl girdled in veils
calling to me from the angry surface of some gray and threatening sea. I was transported. Then I
became aware of the clarinet playing and the big shots yelling at us. Some threatened us if we looked
and others if we did not. On my right I saw one boy faint. And now a man grabbed a silver pitcher from a
table and stepped close as he dashed ice water upon him and stood him up and forced two of us to
support him as his head hung and moans issued from his thick bluish lips. Another boy began to plead to
go home. He was the largest of the group, wearing dark red fighting trunks much too small to conceal
the erection which projected from him as though in answer to the insinuating low-registered moaning of
the clarinet. He tried to hide himself with his boxing gloves. And all the while the blonde continued
dancing, smiling faintly at the big shots who watched her with fascination, and faintly smiling at our fear.
I noticed a certain merchant who followed her hungrily, his lips loose and drooling. He was a large man
who wore diamond studs in a shirtfront which swelled with the ample paunch underneath, and each
time the blonde swayed her undulating hips he ran his hand through the thin hair of his bald head and,
with his arms upheld, his posture clumsy like that of an intoxicated panda, wound his belly in a slow and
obscene grind. This creature was completely hypnotized. The music had quickened. As the dancer flung
herself about with a detached expression on her face, the men began reaching out to touch her. I could
see their beefy fingers sink into the soft flesh. Some of the others tried to stop them and she began to
move around the floor in graceful circles, as they gave chase, slipping and sliding over the polished floor.
It was mad. Chairs went crashing, drinks were spilt, as they ran laughing and howling after her. They
caught her just as she reached a door, raised her from the floor, and tossed her as college boys are
tossed at a hazing, and above her red, fixed-smiling lips I saw the terror and disgust in her eyes, almost
like my own terror and that which I saw in some of the other boys. As I watched, they tossed her twice
and her soft breasts seemed to flatten against the air and her legs flung wildly as she spun. Some of the
more sober ones helped her to escape. And I started off the floor, heading for the anteroom with the
rest of the boys. Some were still crying and in hysteria. But as we tried to leave we were stopped and
ordered to get into the ring. There was nothing to do but what we were told. All ten of us climbed under
the ropes and allowed ourselves to be blindfolded with broad bands of white cloth. One of the men
seemed to feel a bit sympathetic and tried to cheer us up as we stood with our backs against the ropes.
Some of us tried to grin. “See that boy over there?” one of the men said. “I want you to run across at the
bell and give it to him right in the belly. If you don’t get him, I’m going to get you. I don’t like his looks.”
Each of us was told the same. The blindfolds were put on. Yet even then I had been going over my
speech. In my mind each word was as bright as flame. I felt the cloth pressed into place, and frowned so
that it would be loosened when I relaxed. But now I felt a sudden fit of blind terror. I was unused to
darkness. It was as though I had suddenly found myself in a dark room filled with poisonous
cottonmouths. I could hear the bleary voices yelling insistently for the battle royal to begin. “Get going
in there!” “Let me at that big nigger!” I strained to pick up the school superintendent’s voice, as though
to squeeze some security out of that slightly more familiar sound. “Let me at those black sonsabitches!”
someone yelled. “No, Jackson, no!” another voice yelled. “Here, somebody, help me hold Jack.” “I want
to get at that ginger-colored nigger. Tear him limb from limb,” the first voice yelled. I stood against the
ropes trembling. For in those days I was what they called ginger-colored, and he sounded as though he
might crunch me between his teeth like a crisp ginger cookie. Quite a struggle was going on. Chairs were
being kicked about and I could hear voices grunting as with a terrific effort. I wanted to see, to see more
desperately than ever before. But the blindfold was as tight as a thick skin-puckering scab and when I
raised my gloved hands to push the layers of white aside a voice yelled, “Oh, no you don’t, black
bastard! Leave that alone!” “Ring the bell before Jackson kills him a coon!” someone boomed in the
sudden silence. And I heard the bell clang and the sound of the feet scuffling forward. A glove smacked
against my head. I pivoted, striking out stiffly as someone went past, and felt the jar ripple along the
length of my arm to my shoulder. Then it seemed as though all nine of the boys had turned upon me at
once. Blows pounded me from all sides while I struck out as best I could. So many blows landed upon me
that I wondered if I were not the only blindfolded fighter in the ring, or if the man called Jackson hadn’t
succeeded in getting me after all. Blindfolded, I could no longer control my motions. I had no dignity. I
stumbled about like a baby or a drunken man. The smoke had become thicker and with each new blow
it seemed to sear and further restrict my lungs. My saliva became like hot bitter glue. A glove connected
with my head, filling my mouth with warm blood. It was everywhere. I could not tell if the moisture I felt
upon my body was sweat or blood. A blow landed hard against the nape of my neck. I felt myself going
over, my head hitting the floor. Streaks of blue light filled the black world behind the blindfold. I lay
prone, pretending that I was knocked out, but felt myself seized by hands and yanked to my feet. “Get
going, black boy! Mix it up!” My arms were like lead, my head smarting from blows. I managed to feel
my way to the ropes…
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