Invisible Man

Ralph Ellison
Quotes

Sybil Quotes

Quotes Sybil Quotes
She was a leathery old girl with chestnut hair of fine natural wave which was now fanned out over the pillow. She was blushing quite deeply. Was this meant to excite me, or was it an unconscious expression of revulsion?

The narrator describes Sybil as she seduces him. He brings Sybil to his apartment where they both get very drunk. At this point, she begins to entice him, whispering in his ear what she wants him to do to her, enthralling and agitating him with her advances. Like him and so many others in the book, Sybil struggles to reconcile her intellect and her physicality, torn between her gentility and her sexuality.

“But do you know what, beautiful,” she said leaning forward confidentially, “I think I'm a nymphomaniac . . . Sometimes I have such thoughts and dreams. I never give into them though, but I really think I am. A woman like me has to develop an iron discipline.”

After a drink or two, Sybil confesses to the narrator that her sexual urges often get the better of her. She calls her tendencies a secret, admitting her attraction to black men who order women to do their bidding. The narrator finds her appearance attractive despite their age difference. Her honesty also has a compelling effect. The pair continue to drink until drunk, and she passes out before they have sexual relations.

“I'll be right back,” I said, backing away. “Boo'ful,” she called, “My boo'ful.” Hear the true affection, I thought, the adoration of the Boogie Bear, moving away. Was she calling me beautiful or boogieful, beautiful or sublime . . . What'd either mean? I am invisible . . .”

The narrator and Sybil briefly converse before parting ways while out on the street. The narrator just received a phone call informing him of the riots that have broken out in Harlem and he is leaving Sybil to reach the scene. They are both quite inebriated and Sybil repeatedly calls him by this nickname. The narrator, beginning to enter his final phase, questions everyone’s assessment of him as he gravitates to invisibility.