Reborn Chapter 11 of Ralph Ellison s Invisible Man is unclear and cryptic in ways. The reader is never really told what is happening to the narrator. All the reader knows for certain is that the narrator is in some sort of factory hospital. Throughout the chapter Ellison constantly uses imagery that refers to birth. Ellison s reason for using all of this imagery is fairly clear. He is trying to show that the narrator is changing, being reborn.
After reading the chapter one can get a sense that the narrator is no longer the person that he used to be. In chapter 11 Ellison uses a lot of imagery that represents aspects of birth. For instance, on page 238. The narrator describes the way that his body feels in such a way that it almost seems like he s in some sort of womb: I seemed to exist is some other dimension, utterly alone... A huge iridescent bubble seemed to enfold me (238).
These two phrases that the narrator uses to describe what he feels, especially the latter, are pretty clear references to a mother carrying her baby in her womb. Towards the end of the chapter, after the narrator is freed from whatever form of confinement he was in, Ellison describes this as though it was a child being born: I recoiled inwardly as though the cord were part of me. Than they had it free and the nurse clipped through the belly band and removed the heavy node. I opened my mouth to speak but one of the physicians shook his head. They worked swiftly.
The nodes off, the nurse went over me with rubbing alcohol. Then I was told to climb out of the case. (244) Near the beginning of the chapter Ellison uses certain phrases to try to conjure up images of a mother pregnant with a child. Near the end, when the narrator is being freed, Ellison describes this almost as though it was a birth. Ellison uses such imagery throughout this chapter in order t show that the narrator is being reborn. After the narrator s stay in the factory hospital (his rebirth) he acts differently.
Up until the narrator s rebirth he never really stood up for himself. He d been taking his grandfathers advice of basically just being a yes-man. After his rebirth though, we see a change in the narrator. The narrator, after witnessing two elderly people being evicted from their apartment, delivers a speech to the crowd of people that ultimately ends up in the crowd beating up the Marshall that was evicting the elderly couple, and them moving the elderly couple s things back into their home. Chapter 11 is a very significant part in Invisible Man. It signifies a change in the narrator.
Even though the reader is not really sure about what exactly went on in the factory hospital, it is evident that something substantial happened to the narrator. He was reborn, somehow.