Invisible Man

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Brother Jack Character Analysis

Brother Jack is an experienced politician and the leader of the Brotherhood. When the narrator first meets Brother Jack he is cool and collected, able to marshal reams of history and theory with ease. However, it quickly becomes apparent that Brother Jack is more interested in his own power than in any scientific theory of history. Brother Jack uses the Brotherhood’s theory to justify his own commands, and ultimately admits to the narrator that he intends to tell the people what to think. His single eye becomes a metaphor for his partial blindness.

Brother Jack Quotes in Invisible Man

The Invisible Man quotes below are all either spoken by Brother Jack or refer to Brother Jack. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Race and Racism Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Vintage edition of Invisible Man published in 1995.
Chapter 22 Quotes

Our job is not to ask them what they think but to tell them!

Related Characters: Brother Jack (speaker)
Page Number: 473
Explanation and Analysis:

The narrator has delivered a powerful speech at Tod Clifton's funeral, but one that he knows did not emphasize Brotherhood ideology enough to satisfy the members of the Brotherhood. Sure enough, he has been called into a meeting during which Brother Jack and Brother Tobitt criticize and ridicule the narrator for his speech and tell him that he doesn't truly understand the situation in Harlem. Brother Jack informs the narrator that he was "not hired to think," and goes on to say that the role of the Brotherhood is not to ask people what they think but to tell them. These words are directly reminiscent of Dr. Bledsoe's claim that he tells white people what to think, highlighting the similarity between the power-hungry figures of Brother Jack and Bledsoe. 

This passage is the first time in which the Brotherhood's authoritarian, paternalistic nature is explicitly revealed. Thus far, members of the Brotherhood have described the organization as radically egalitarian, but Brother Jack's statement reveals that this is false, and that members of the Brotherhood, like so many other characters in the novel, only really care about having power over others. Once again, it is black people (in this instance, the population of Harlem) who are particularly targeted and whose agency and autonomy is denied. 

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Chapter 25 Quotes

I looked at Ras on his horse and at their handful of guns and recognized the absurdity of the whole night and of the simple yet confoundingly complex arrangement of hope and desire, fear and hate, that had brought me here still running, and knowing now who I was and where I was and knowing too that I had no longer to run for or from the Jacks and the Emersons and the Bledsoes and Nortons, but only from their confusion, impatience, and refusal to recognize the beautiful absurdity of their American identity and mine.

Related Characters: The Narrator (speaker), Dr. Bledsoe, Mr. Norton, Brother Jack, Ras the Exhorter, Young Emerson
Page Number: 559
Explanation and Analysis:

The narrator has found himself in the middle of a riot that's broken out in Harlem, and he has encountered Ras the Exhorter dressed as an Abyssinian chief, carrying a spear and riding a horse. Having recognized the narrator, Ras orders his men to hang him, ignoring the narrator's explanations that he is no longer part of the Brotherhood. Faced with the prospect of his imminent death, the narrator reflects on the bizarre, "simple yet confoundingly complex" situation in which he has ended up. The calm with which he confronts the prospect of death reveals a newfound sense of acceptance of the sinister and unpredictable nature of reality, and indicates that the narrator no longer wishes to control "history." 

This sense of freedom and acceptance is echoed in the narrator's admission that he no longer feels he has to run from "the Emersons and the Bledsoes and Nortons, but only from their confusion." The narrator's new level of wisdom and maturity is emphasized by the fact that he has given up hope of escaping power-hungry figures without succumbing to total disillusionment and despair. While almost everything he once believed about the world has been upended, he still believes in the importance of patience, wisdom, and compassion, and seems to have discovered a newfound appreciation for the "beautiful absurdity" of life in American society. 

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Brother Jack Character Timeline in Invisible Man

The timeline below shows where the character Brother Jack appears in Invisible Man. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 13
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Just as the narrator thinks he’s escaped detection, the voice of Brother Jack pierces him from behind, complimenting the narrator on his powers of persuasion. Brother Jack calls... (full context)
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At a cafeteria, the narrator examines Brother Jack , a small white man with a bouncy step. He feels that something about Brother... (full context)
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Brother Jack offers the narrator a job with his organization, telling him that they need a good... (full context)
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The narrator leaves Brother Jack , unsure what to make of him. He is not sure if Jack’s offer is... (full context)
Chapter 14
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...short of money, and he realizes that he cannot realistically turn down the job that Brother Jack has offered him. The narrator looks at the telephone number, realizing that he hadn’t even... (full context)
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Feeling indebted to Mary, the narrator decides to call Brother Jack’s number. He tells Mary that he has to take care of some business, and Mary... (full context)
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Brother Jack seems unsurprised by the narrator’s phone call, and tells the narrator to meet him as... (full context)
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Brother Jack and his group enter the building, and the narrator has the sense that he’s been... (full context)
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Emma serves a drink to the narrator and to Brother Jack . Jack tells Emma that the narrator simply rose up out of a crowd, and... (full context)
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The narrator is asked to join a “business” meeting in the library. Brother Jack explains about the Brotherhood, telling the narrator that the organization’s goal is to work for... (full context)
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An unnamed man with a pipe interrupts Brother Jack’s passionate words, asking him to speak more “concretely” and “scientifically.” Brother Jack tells him not... (full context)
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Brother Jack inquires about the narrator’s living situation, and the narrator explains his lodgings with Mary. Jack... (full context)
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...room to socialize. The narrator is introduced to everyone by his new Brotherhood name. As Brother Jack and the narrator go from group to group, the narrator vows to himself that he... (full context)
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...to sing a spiritual, telling the narrator that he likes the way black people sing. Brother Jack loudly protests that the narrator does not sing. The drunken man keeps pressing, and eventually... (full context)
Chapter 15
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...He needs to settle his account with Mary and buy himself new clothes before calling Brother Jack . (full context)
Chapter 16
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In the evening, Brother Jack and some others pick up the narrator in a taxi and drive to Harlem. The... (full context)
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Brother Jack asks if the narrator has looked over the Brotherhood material, and instructs him to listen... (full context)
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...the narrator looks down the alley and sees three mounted policemen. He decides to let Brother Jack know about their presence. (full context)
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...didn’t trust old Master.” He thinks the same thing about both the roaring crowd and Brother Jack . As the noise rises, Brother Jack ushers the speakers out onto the stage. (full context)
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As the narrator’s speech begins to climax, Brother Jack comes to his side and gives him a small warning not to “end your usefulness... (full context)
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...the reception is not so positive. The man with the pipe calls the speech “unsatisfactory.” Brother Jack becomes very angry, and the two men argue over the correct way to lead the... (full context)
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Brother Jack , visibly upset, asks the other members of the backroom committee what they thought of... (full context)
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...He will receive lessons in political theory from Brother Hambro. The narrator is upset, but Brother Jack reassures him, telling him that such a period of “indoctrination” was inevitable. (full context)
Chapter 17
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Four months later, Brother Jack calls up the narrator and takes him on a ride. The narrator is curious where... (full context)
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Since the speech, the narrator has seen Brother Jack very infrequently. The narrator has been submerged in lessons from Brother Hambro, working harder than... (full context)
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Brother Jack asks the narrator how his lessons have gone. Jack tells him to master the Brotherhood’s... (full context)
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Brother Jack informs the narrator that he is to become the chief spokesman of the Harlem district... (full context)
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Brother Jack decides to show the narrator the offices of the Harlem chapter of the Brotherhood, telling... (full context)
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The next day, the narrator arrives on time to his first meeting in the offices. Brother Jack is there as well, and notes that everyone is present except for Brother Tod Clifton.... (full context)
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...tall, dark, and handsome man enters the meeting, and he is identified as Tod Clifton. Brother Jack asks why he is late, and Clifton replies that he had to see the doctor.... (full context)
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...his name. The Brotherhood members tell him that Ras opposes cooperation between blacks and whites. Brother Jack warns Clifton that the Brotherhood is strictly against violence. (full context)
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Brother Jack departs, and the narrator examines the Brotherhood members at his disposal. He can’t quite place... (full context)
Chapter 18
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...to the Brotherhood’s downtown headquarters, where the mood is serious. In a meeting moderated by Brother Jack , Brother Wrestrum accuses the narrator of using his prominent position in the Brotherhood for... (full context)
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The narrator dismisses Wrestrum’s accusations as lies and calls Wrestrum a scoundrel. Brother Jack tells the narrator not to lose his temper, and then instructs him to leave the... (full context)
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However, Brother Jack tells the narrator that his name has only been cleared with regard to the interview.... (full context)
Chapter 19
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...the narrator that she is interested in the Brotherhood’s “spiritual values” and the narrator remembers Brother Jack’s words about wealthy people who donate to the Brotherhood to assuage their guilt. (full context)
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...done lecturing on the “Woman Question.” However, what follows is unexpected: Tod Clifton has disappeared. Brother Jack asks if the narrator knows anything about his disappearance. The narrator answers that he does... (full context)
Chapter 21
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...quickly becomes the refrain of a passionate speech he gives celebrating Clifton. He thinks that Brother Jack wouldn’t approve of the speech’s political content, but that he has no choice but to... (full context)
Chapter 22
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Brother Jack asks the narrator how the funeral went. The narrator is surprised to learn that Brother... (full context)
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Brother Jack and the committee pounce on the narrator’s choice of words, criticizing his use of “personal... (full context)
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...to explain the reasoning behind organizing the funeral, but the committee doesn’t want to listen. Brother Jack tells him that the funeral was wrong because Clifton had betrayed the organization by deciding... (full context)
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Ultimately, Brother Jack informs the narrator that he was not “hired to think.” Jack says that the narrator’s... (full context)
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Brother Jack tells the narrator that the committee has decided against demonstrations such as the funeral, telling... (full context)
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After hearing the narrator’s report, Brother Jack finally says that the committee’s job is not to ask people what they think, but... (full context)
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Brother Jack is infuriated. He leaps to his feet and grips the table. Convulsed by his anger,... (full context)
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Accordingly, Brother Jack asks if the eye makes the narrator feel uncomfortable. Jack is proud of the eye,... (full context)
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Brother Jack puts his glass eye back in. He then asks for the time, and remarks that... (full context)
Chapter 23
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...box to be counted. The narrator feels that he has simply exchanged Mr. Norton for Brother Jack without making any progress whatsoever. (full context)
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...through a woman. Knowing that a party is coming up soon at the Chthonian for Brother Jack’s birthday, the narrator thinks about seducing Emma to gain more information. The narrator confirms to... (full context)
Chapter 24
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At the Chthonian, Brother Jack’s birthday is celebrated. The narrator tries to approach Emma, but something in her demeanor warns... (full context)
Chapter 25
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...no more men will be born in such an inhumane building. The narrator wonders what Brother Jack would think of a man like Dupre. (full context)
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The narrator begins to look for Brother Jack , convinced that finding him is the only way to destroy the Brotherhood. As he... (full context)
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...is the same as the slip that gave him his Brotherhood name. He realizes that Brother Jack was the author of the anonymous note. The narrator begins to scream and accidentally extinguishes... (full context)
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...has a vision of himself as a prisoner of all his past enemies, including Ras, Brother Jack , Mr. Norton, and Dr. Bledsoe. The narrator tells his captors that he is done... (full context)
Epilogue
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...the avant-garde or in the past, but that he’ll leave those decisions to men like Brother Jack . (full context)