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These men both appear to be one thing, while serving their own purposes. As men, they are completely different, that they are both in fact self-serving makes them similar.
Dr. Bledsoe is the president of the narrator's college, and the narrator looks up to him until he turns out to be a big phony. While Dr. Bledsoe preaches a doctrine of hard work and humility as the key to black advancement, he retains his power as president of the college by "playing the nigger" – he scrapes, bows, and all the while deceives the powerful white men upon whose patronage his power depends. Thus Dr. Bledsoe's supposed commitment to his race is a sham; at one point he declares that he would see every black man in the country lynched before he would give up his position of authority.
Mr. Brockway, a black man, can be thought of a symbol himself. He is the black formula that makes the white paint work. He is one of the many blacks that keep the paint factory working. He is one of the many blacks that keep
society as the whites like it. Mr. Brockway makes the powder that is the base of the paint. Again, a black influence that makes the "Optic White" paint possible appears. When the narrator returns from getting his lunch,
he is confronted by Mr. Brockway about the union. it is here that the reader learns that the blacks that, in effect, run the paint factory, are being hired so that the company does not have to pay union wages. This is important
because it shows that the blacks are once again being taken advantage of by the whites, yet they are still working behind the scenes to make things run like clockwork.
Dr. Brockway and Lucius are similar, because they both appear to be trying to help others, but really have motivations of self-interest. Both of these men wish only to keep their position of authority, nad anyone who threatens to take that away from them in cosidered "dangerous."
At the college, when the narrator drives Mr. Norton to a forbidden part of the cmpus, and show Mr. Norton the old slave quarters, this angers Dr. Bledsoe. This is because he wishes for Mr. Norton to dismiss this horrific past. This is not because Dr. Bledsoe does not want to be thought of as a slave; it is becuase of selfish intentions. If he remembers it, Mr. Norton may feel as if Dr. Bledsoe is not "worthy" of the job as the college's principal. So, now that the narrator has shown the quarters to Mr. Norton, Dr. Bledoe thinks of the narrator as "dagerous," for he is threatening his job. He then sends him away in an effort to keep his role in authority.
Later in the novel, when the narrator arrives back at the paint factory after his lunch break, he is confronted by Lucius. The narrator had recently stumbled into a union meeting, and Lucuis wanted to know why he had been there. As it turns out, African Americans are being hired so that the paint company does not have to pay union wages. When Lucius hears that the narrator was present at one of thes meetings, he fears that the narrator is part of the union, and is trying to take his job. Like Dr. Bledsoe, he now sees the narrator as a threat, trying to take away his position in authority.
As you can see, the whites in the novel were giving African Americans jobs of authority and respect. As you can imagine, this may cause African Americans to be a little paranoid about keeping their jobs. They wanted to please the whites, in order to achieve "social advancement." When they see someone that may threaten their chances in achieving this, they immediatley strive to get rid of them. The way white are treating the African Americans in this novel are cuasing them to turn on each other, instead of helping one another.
Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison