What does the narrator tell the audience at Clifton's funeral? What does he mean?
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Once the funeral reaches the park, the crowd expects the narrator to speak but he does not know what they want to hear. He shouts for the crowd to go home as they did nothing to prevent the state which created the tragedy. He repeats Clifton's name many times and gives characteristics of the man. He speaks with a tone of disillusionment and is not pleased when it is over at how he has spoken. A preacher steps up to finish the ceremony.
When the funeral procession reaches its end at a park, the narrator is asked to speak but much like his first speech with the Brotherhood, he has nothing prepared. Thus he must speak from his heart. The voice which speaks out of him struggles with the invisibility which is threatening to smother Clifton and his memory. In order to deny Clifton's erasure, he must give him a name. He begins nearly each part of his speech by directly naming Tod Clifton and then working to describe him as a man. He admits that Clifton had flaws but also blames the community who did not try hard enough to stop his death. He feels that the speech is failing because it lacks a political nature but it strikes the crowd because Clifton had gone beyond politics. He tried to pull the strings of the establishment as the white men did and was shot down. As the narrator notes, Clifton was full of illusions. In this sense, he ran from the cops but could not escape. Finally beginning to realize the significance of Clifton's fall, the narrator leaves the funeral and sees not a crowd but individual faces.