And my problem was that I always tried to go in everyone’s way but my own. I have also been called one thing and then another while no one really wished to hear what I called myself. So after years of trying to adopt the opinions of others I finally rebelled. I am an invisible man.

In this quote from the Epilogue, the narrator very neatly encapsulates the main source of his difficulties throughout the twenty-five chapters of the novel. He has not been himself and has not lived his own life but rather has allowed the complexity of his identity to be limited by the social expectations and prejudices of others. He has followed the ideology of the college and the ideology of the Brotherhood without trusting or developing his own identity. Now, however, he has realized that his own identity, both in its flexibility and authenticity, is the key to freedom. Rinehart, a master of many identities, first suggests to the narrator the limitless capacity for variation within oneself. However, Rinehart ultimately proves an unsatisfactory model for the narrator because Rinehart’s life lacks authenticity. The meaning of the narrator’s assertion that he is “an invisible man” has changed slightly since he made the same claim at the beginning of the novel: whereas at the outset he means to call attention to the fact that others cannot not see him, he now means to call attention to the fact that his identity, his inner self, is real, even if others cannot see it.