The Invisible Man


H. G. Wells

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The Invisible Man: Chapter 21 Summary & Analysis

Griffin continues his story. At first he finds it tricky to walk now that he cannot see his own feet. However, as he gets used to it he grows more and more overjoyed. He is overcome by a desire to play tricks on people, but his joy is quickly dampened when a man bumps into him, hurting him. The man is confused, claiming “the devil” is in the basket he was holding and letting it go. A crowd gathers, and Griffin rushes away before he can be discovered. He pushes past people and keeps getting injured. Moreover, it is January at the time, and Griffin is naked and freezing. He briefly leaps into a cab, but hurries out when a woman gets in.
Griffin’s euphoria and feeling of total freedom does not last long before he encounters the obstacles he now uniquely faces as an invisible man. Not only does he have to worry about people bumping into him all the time, but even the most basic needs like clothing and transportation are suddenly difficult to access. Even when he has a stroke of luck such as finding the empty cab, this tends to run out quickly due to other people’s ignorance of his existence.
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A small white dog begins sniffing at him and barking, and Griffin flees. Although he manages to successfully rid himself of the dog, he then creates footprints on the ground, which causes a nearby crowd of people to stare in astonishment. Griffin runs, and the crowd watches, rapt, as each step makes another footprint. Griffin keeps running, though his feet ached; he has also developed an agonizing sore throat. Occasionally he bumps into people and confuses them, and every dog he passes investigates him. He runs back to his old building, where he sees a crowd gathered around, watching the enormous fire he’d started.
Griffin’s chill from the cold, his sore feet and throat, and the attention from the dog all serve as reminders that the human ability to manipulate nature through science will always be limited. Due to human mortality, we are all ultimately susceptible to natural laws. Even if we manage to evade some (for example, through invisibility), we can never escape them all.
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