Invisible Man ends with an epilogue in which the narrator decides that his “hibernation” has lasted long enough, and that he will finally leave his underground cellar to rejoin society. Prior to reaching this conclusion, the narrator chronicles Harlem’s spiral into a chaotic riot. He also tells how he fell through an open manhole and into a coal cellar that he decided to make into a secret lair. In the epilogue, with the main portion of his story now complete, the narrator reflects on his experiences and his disillusionment. He also recalls a time when he ran into Mr. Norton on the subway, many years after their adventure at the Golden Day. Although Norton didn’t recognize the narrator, the narrator insisted, “I’m your destiny. . . .I made you.” The narrator concludes by recognizing that “even an invisible man has a socially responsible role to play,” and so he will return to the world above.
The conclusion of Invisible Man shows the reader what led the narrator underground in the first place. It also shows how storytelling has helped the narrator make sense of his position in society and will thereby enable him to return to the world above. By recounting his many surreal experiences, the narrator has been able to come to terms with his complex identity. On the one hand, he has explored how his vexed social position as a Black man makes him “invisible” to those in his society who remain blinded by and blind to their own racism. On the other hand, he has reflected on how his attempts to make himself visible have led him to betray his own community. Now that he has synthesized these lessons, the narrator realizes the importance of returning to the very society he tried to reject. Despite his invisibility, he recognizes that he has a social responsibility. And even more importantly, he believes he possesses the power to effect change. Although he has so frequently been disempowered by both white and Black authority figures, the narrator also understands that Black and white communities depend on one another and ultimately represent one another’s “destiny.”