Invisible Man

Ralph Ellison
Quotes

Brother Jack Quotes

Quotes Brother Jack Quotes
He smiled knowingly. “I can see that you have been well trained. Come, it isn't good for you to be seen with me in the street. Let's go somewhere for a cup of coffee.”

Brother Jack addresses the narrator at their introduction, which marks the beginning of the most important relationships in the novel. Brother Jack observed the narrator during the eviction and recognized him as an eloquent speaker with a potential future in the movement. Here, he reveals not only his interest in the narrator but also the clandestine and somewhat dangerous nature of his organization, the Brotherhood.

“You know,” he said, taking a gulp of coffee, “I haven't heard such an effective piece of eloquence since the days when I was in—well, in a long time. You aroused them so quickly to action. I don't understand how you managed it. If only some of our speakers could have listened!”

Brother Jack compliments the narrator on his performance during the eviction. He lays the groundwork for offering the narrator a job in the Brotherhood, and will soon pay him $300 for his back rent and promise $60 per week to become a part of the organization. He admires not only the narrator’s words but also the way in which he inspired others to take action, the mark of a leader.

You must realize immediately that much of our work is opposed. Our discipline demands therefore that we talk to no one and that we avoid situations in which information might be given away unwittingly. So you must put aside your past.

Here, Brother Jack speaks to the narrator as he explains that he must leave Miss Mary’s and cut his ties with his past to work for the Brotherhood. He has just offered to pay him a good wage, with the condition that he can no longer write letters to his family back home. He will hand him a piece of paper with his new name written on it, a new identity from this point forward.

He stood up front beside a microphone, his feet planted solidly on the dirty canvas-covered platform, looking from side to side; his posture dignified and benign, like a bemused father listening to the performance of his adoring children. I saw his hand go up in a salute, and the audience thundered.

The narrator describes Brother Jack preparing to introduce him before he gives his speech to a huge crowd gathered in the sports arena. Brother Jack portrays himself as a benevolent leader, a father figure to the crowd and to the narrator himself. He commands respect in a gentle, nonviolent way. Brother Jack mentors the narrator, and, as with the Founder, the narrator wants to be like him.

Brother Jack laughed. “And this mob,” he said, “Is it a mob against us, or is it a mob for us—how do our muscle-bound scientists answer that?” But before they could answer he continued, “Perhaps you're right, perhaps it is a mob; but if it is, then it seems to be a mob that's simply boiling over to come along with us.”

After the speeches at the sports arena, Brother Jack discusses what has happened and what it means with other members of the Brotherhood, including the narrator. He wants to remain reasonable, logical, even scientific in his approach, but he acknowledges a mob mentality at play, one that needs to be managed carefully and not allowed to run amok.

The other thing to remember is that if we are to organize the masses we must first organize ourselves. Thanks to our new brother, things have changed; we mustn't fail to make use of our opportunity. From now on it's up to you.

Brother Jack speaks to the Brotherhood after the event at the sport arena. He is the consummate organizer, a devotee of Booker T. Washington, who believes in order and science above passionate excitement. He believes that the movement needs to be properly managed by leaders who care about history, not about personal gain or notoriety. He recognizes that the “masses” could turn against their cause or aid it, and it all depends on the Brotherhood’s actions.

“Master it,” Brother Jack said, “but don't overdo it. Don't let it master you. There is nothing to put the people to sleep like dry ideology. The ideal is to strike a medium between ideology and inspiration. Say what the people want to hear, but say it in such a way that they'll do what we wish.”

Here, Brother Jack has an intimate conversation with the narrator who has been working closely with Brother Hambro. He encourages the narrator to embrace the ideology and teachings of the Brotherhood but not to be a slave to it, to think for himself as he relies on the ideas for his foundation and inspiration. He encourages the narrator to act first and theorize later. He holds up putting one’s emotions aside and reacting with intellect as a calculated strategy.

“Very well, but no violence,” Brother Jack said. “The Brotherhood is against violence and terror and provocation of any kind—aggressive, that is. Understand, Brother Clifton?”

Brother Jack extols his theory of nonviolence as he speaks to a big woman on the committee about Ras the Exhorter, whom she says goes wild when he sees white people and black people together. Jack’s consistency about his methods prefigures Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. He represents a calm, peaceful approach whereas Ras represents the opposite.

“You'll learn,” he said. “You'll learn and you'll surrender yourself to it even under such conditions. Especially under such conditions; that's its value. That makes it patience.”

Brother Jack scolds the narrator for the scene he created at Clifton’s funeral. He accuses the narrator of honoring a traitor as a hero, and tells him that he needs to bend to the will of the Brotherhood, not to think on his own. In his own defense, the narrator claims that people on the street are not feeling patient, that they expect more from the Brotherhood than the organization can give. The people want action, and the narrator believes that Brother Jack’s patience holds back progress.

The heroes are those who die. This was nothing—after it happened. A minor lesson in discipline. And do you know what discipline is, Brother Personal Responsibility? It's sacrifice, sacrifice, SACRIFICE!

Brother Jack argues with the narrator about the true meaning of sacrifice. The two characters represent the two extremes of Brotherhood ideology. The narrator wants to be a man of action, passion, and individual responsibility. Brother Jack argues for patience, commitment, and the sacrifice of the individual to the will of the organization. Their differences reach a culmination in this argument, punctuated by the image of Jack’s glass eye, a symbol of his blindness.