Invisible Man

How does the author use irony to show how far Clifton had fallen

Chapter 20

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The Sambo doll that Clifton is found to be selling is an allusion to the Negro bank that the narrator had found in Mary's apartment. Both are disgustingly degrading toward African-Americans, promoting stereotypical features and actions. That Clifton has moved from an important member in the Brotherhood to the position of Sambo progenitor places him outside of history similar to how Clifton described Ras in their fight scene. Cracking underneath the deep hypocrisy the Brotherhood represents and which Ras exhorted, Clifton moves to be a symbol of the other extreme. Perhaps, the reader must wonder though, if Clifton had fallen into the advice given by the grandfather. He is yessing the white men to death. The police men note something more harsh and bitter in Clifton than his being an illegal vendor. Clifton was tired of fighting back the fears he felt when challenged by Ras and so makes a complete turn and attacks from the underbelly. In this too he fails. As Clifton sings in his advertising jingle, Sambo is more than a toy, he is "the twentieth century miracle". The miracle of blatant oppression and inequality keeps the narrator running . He tries to avoid the message of the toy which is the miracle of accommodation. He too has been made to dance, controlled by the Brotherhood, but he wishes to erase the Clifton episode from his mind. Ironically, he instead takes comfort in knowing that he has found the Brotherhood and decides to make a greater push toward bringing others in as well.