Betrayal in “The Storm” and “Invisible Man”

Introduction

In “The Storm” by Kate Chopin and “Invisible Man” ­­by Ralph Ellison, both texts demonstrate and symbolize betrayal. However, in “The Storm,” betrayal is looked at by Chopin as a way to achieve true happiness, and in Ellison’s novel it can be interpreted as a way to build a stronger person. Betrayal can be both, bad and good, it can also be a way to reach true happiness. Analyzing what betrayal can mean is controversial. In “The Storm,” the two main characters had an affair that was not supposed to happen as both of them were married to other people, and afterwards there were no repercussions to either of their actions. In “Invisible Man,” the main character, whose name is not given and who is also the narrator of the story, is betrayed by all of the people who he trusts and as a result it made him to develop a stronger character. Kate Choplin and Ralph Ellison both build on the theme of betrayals as an issue that is brought by the characters themselves but has varied outcomes in both the positive and negative perspectives.

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Betrayal in Both Novels

“The Storm,” is a short story about a married woman, Calixta, and Alcee, another married individual, who have an affair. It’s not over just there, there was a storm going on around the time this happened which caused the situation to even happen. The storm is a metaphor for their affair. Calixta was home waiting for her husband and their four-year-old son when the storm made its ways into their lives. Alcee who is married at the time happens to pass by when the storm hit, causing Calixta to even have the chance to talk to him. The author writes “As she stepped outside, Alcée Laballière rode in at the gate. She had not seen him very often since her marriage, and never alone” (Choplin 2). The effect of the storm that had on both of these individuals was positive. Even though what Calixta did was morally wrong, Choplin could have meant anything. She could have wanted to state that betrayal around this time, late 1880s, was okay and instead of breaking marriages it healed them. People can say this is morally wrong but in this case it was a good thing. Calixta was able to cheat on her husband while having a four-year-old son and afterwards everything was okay.

In “Invisible Man,” Ellison wanted to show the amount of times one person could get betrayed and what would happen. In this case the narrator was betrayed a numerous of times by the people who earned his trust. Among the many who build on this theme are The Brotherhood and Dr. Bledsoe. The Brotherhood particularly turns out as a group that is less focused on the interest of the mainstream population as it purported and instead takes advantage of the suffering of the people to develop its interests. For example, when riots break out following a series of unrest incidences in Harlem, the narrator realizes that the Brotherhood are not honest in their mission because they capitalize on the situation to build on their selfish desires (Ellison 34). In the end, the narrator is thrown out of the group and returned to Harlem despite having sacrificed the accommodation he had been receiving from Mary because he knew that the Brotherhood would not forsake him. The acts of being betrayed by the Brotherhood was so hurting to him that he decides to undermine the group by issuing them with false data about the conditions in Harlem (Wells). Trueblood’s scandal further builds on the theme of betrayall in the book because one realizes that he impregnates his wife and daughter, an act that would be perceived as an abomination at the time of the writing of the book. Overall, therefor, one learns that betrayal is a normal aspect of life that is inevitable because all the characters do not plan on how events turn out.

Comparison and Contrast

The similarity between the two novels in the portrayal of the theme of betrayal is that in both cases, the main characters are responsible for building on the subject from the manner in which they relate. The personal decisions some of the characters make is used to account for the supposed self-sacrifice because as a result of the mistakes they make, the reader notes that the individuals become their won agents. In the Invisible man, for example, one would be amazed at the incidence in which the narrator betrays his race. It is apparent that growing up, the narrator had been taught to respect the “white man” and even though he is victim of racial abuse in many instances in the novel, one wouldn’t have expected that he would try to conceal his identity Upon returning to Harlem, the narrator uses a hat and spectacles to elude his pursuant, Ras, and he is mistaken for a different man named Rinehart. There are many other incidences that show the character betraying his self without his consent. In fact, in the end, the character decides that he would return to being observed by the world after many years of hiding from it. The case is similar in the novel the storm, as the reader notes that Calixta is her own source of betray when she decides to give in to Alcee’s sexual exploits. Initially she was standoffish but when she gave in, the self-betrayal became apparent because she was engaging in a love affair with another married man in her matrimonial house (Maddox 1). The similarity in the portrayal of the theme of betrayal in both instances, is therefore rooted on the main characters lack of self-appreciation and awareness of their position and role in the community.

It is also critical to highlight that while the theme of betrayal is shared in both books, the outcome of the disloyalty is varied. In “The Invisible,” the narrator is a victim of mistreatment from the society in so many instances that it creates a scenario of a man who is out to revenge against the world. It would be argued that the betrayal eventually made him stronger but from the incidence in which the narrator vows to be a better person in the world. The conclusion came at the end of the epilogue after the unnamed character decided that after so many tribulations, he was now stronger. However, it is apparent that following the act of being sacrificed in many scenes, an element of hate develops as the narrator is angry with the world. For example, he starts blackmailing the Brotherhood from the feeling of being abandoned by a trusted group that enabled him acquire him individual apartment. The hate is also apparent in the manner the narrator relates with other characters such as Trueblood and Ras, who became an arch enemy. The examination of the subject from the perspective of “The Storm” is, however, different because the outcome of betrayal was that it bonded and brought even more love. For instance, one would instantly note that while Calixta and Alcee has forgotten about their former relationship, the storm enables them to rekindle it. They engage in a love affair that bonds the two together even though they had to separate into different ways as they were both married (The Kate Chopin International Society). The separation is however not ill-intentioned because it was accidental that they met following the development of the storm.

Conclusion

The two authors for “The Invisible” and “The Storm” focus on the theme of betrayal in a manner that is both binding and alienating. The basic feeling that the reader gets is that betrayal and infidelity can be brutal, but instead of making it destroy your life it should develop you as a person. In Invisible Man, it helped him find his true identity and brave enough to face the real world. The most significant aspect, hoeever, is that it made the narrator more repulsive and angry at the world and is seen to have separated with some of those he had owed allegiance. In Chopin’s piece, the infidelity was perceived as a binding features because it controversially made everyone happy. It avoided ruining a family because the mother saw it as something normal to do and it had no repercussions in the way she went through life about. In the two text betrayal was a major conflict but it was needed to make everything turn out the way it did.

 

Works Cited

Choplin, Kate. The Storm. N.p., 1898. Print.

Ellison, Ralph. Invisible Man. Ishi Press, 2015. Print.

Maddox, Ashley. “The Storm” By: Kate Chopin.” (2010): n. pag. Web.

The Kate Chopin International Society. “Kate Chopin: ‘The Storm.’” N.p., 2016. Web.

Wells, H. G. “The Invisible Man A Grotesque Romance.” Gutenberg Ebook (2004): n. pag. Web.