Invisible Man Chapter 1
The narrator's story goes back to when his grandfather died cursing his own submission to white oppression. His grandfather had always gone along with what white people expected of him, and so now whenever the narrator is successful, his grandfather's words haunt him because it makes him feel like a traitor to his own race.
The first specific example of this traitorous feeling occurs when the narrator is invited to give a speech at a men's club as a reward for doing well enough in school to speak at his high school graduation. Although the narrator goes to the club to give the speech, he is surprised when the men of the club first gather him up with a group of black boys and make them put on boxing shorts. Then the boys are corralled into the room with the white men to watch a stripper, which is humiliating for the black boys in their thin shorts because their erections are obvious to everyone. After this first humiliation, the boys are then blindfolded and put into a boxing ring to blindly beat each other senseless. What the narrator doesn't realize until it is too late is that the two boys who are left in the ring have to fight each other for the prize money. He is left facing the biggest of the group of boys, and as they fight, he tries to bribe the boy into falling so that the narrator can look good in front of the white men to whom he will eventually present his speech. The other boy refuses the bribe and knocks the narrator out. When he comes to, he sees that a rug has been placed in the front of the room and there is money on the rug. The boys are called up front to grab as much money as they can, but the rug is electrically charged so that each time they touch the metal, they are shocked. The white men in the room enjoy the show as the black boys scramble for money and suffer each time they touch the coins. Once this display ends, the boys are paid five dollars each (and the boy who won the boxing match got ten dollars) and sent home. The narrator, however, stays to present his speech to the men who were only moments before laughing as he and the other boys struggled to gather money without getting shocked by the electrified rug. When he gives his speech, the men either mock or ignore him. But after he is done, they present him with a leather briefcase and a scholarship to a black college. That night the narrator dreams of his grandfather. In the dream his grandfather shows him a letter inside the briefcase, and the letter says, "'To Whom It May Concern: . . . Keep This Nigger-Boy Running.'" Chapter 1, pg. 33 He doesn't realize then the role that the idea in the dream will play in his life.