Invisible Man

explain the extended metaphor of liberty paints

chapter ten

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The paint is a metaphor for race relations. The fact that the company is renowned for having pure, brilliantly white paint that can cover anything, says quite a bit about the attitude of what is not white. The name of the company also adds irony to the situation since in the North, things are supposedly different for the blacks. Kimbro is then ironically fired for tainting a batch of white paint.

The pure white paint that the company is so known for represents how white is seen as the dominant race. The fact that paint is used to cover walls is an interesting metaphor as well: you would use the WHITE paint to COVER things. The fact that the store is called LIBERTY Paints is ironic as well: Liberty means Justice and Equality. This shows the hypocracy in this statement, as we can obviously see how the narrator is treated with no liberty at all, for when he accidentally taints a batch of white paint, he is hurriedly fired. He is seen as a threat for tainting white paint.

The paint store's motto, "What's White is Right," is also a metaphor. This shows the racism in the environment where narrato currently works; if you taint the white paint, if you alter anything that is "right", you are seen as an imediate threat to the society.


Invisible Man, by Ralph Ellison