The narrator’s brief case is his literal “baggage.” Presented in the first chapter after making his graduation speech, the brief case travels with the narrator throughout the novel, accumulating the signs of the narrator’s past. The brief case becomes a sign of the changeability of the narrator’s identity: he, like the brief case, is simply a vessel for the events have come to occupy his body and mind. At the novel’s end, the narrator is forced to burn most of the brief case’s contents in order create a light to see by. This act is a recognition that the past must be reckoned with in order to move forward into the future.
The Brief Case Symbol Timeline in Invisible Man
The timeline below shows where the symbol The Brief Case appears in Invisible Man. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
...town leaders shower him with applause. The school superintendent presents the narrator with a calfskin brief case . He is told to look inside the brief case and discovers a scholarship to... (full context)
...go uptown, the drunken Sybil tries to convince him to stay. The narrator packs his brief case , noticing that the contents have become quite heavy. The narrator takes Sybil out to... (full context)
...to join him on a raid of Harlem’s armory. Seeing Ras, the narrator searches his brief case for his dark-lensed glasses, only to find that they’ve been crushed. Suddenly, the narrator finds... (full context)