According to his benefactor his case, represents, my dear Mr. Emerson, one of the rare delicate instances in which one for whom we held great expectations has gone grievously astray, and who in his fall threatens to upset certain delicate relationships between certain interested individuals and the school. Thus, while the bearer is no longer a member of our scholastic family, it is highly important that his severance with the college be executed as painlessly as possible. I beg of you sir, to help him continue in the direction of that promise which, like the horizon, receded ever brightly and distantly beyond a hopeful traveler." (191)
As he was the inadvertent instigator of a white benefactor of his college being exposed to the ill temper of a black man who teaches there and is apparently capable of truth-telling, the invisible man is dismissed from his beloved school. The manner in which it is done, though it was meant to be kind, was really just a guised way of dismissing him, so he would simply have no recourse. If anyone in the "system" informed him of the situation, as the young Mr. Emerson does, then he must be sworn to secrecy, as it would unsettle the precarious balance between the black educators and their white benefactors, yet again.
The whole of the frame (or, if you will, the whole of the hole) proclaims that the narrative distinction to be drawn between tale and frame is a trope for other distinctions central to Invisible Man, including those between blindness and insight, sleepfulness and wakefulness, sickness and health, social structure and nonstructure, History and history, embodied voice and disembodied voice, and acts of speech and of writing.
The invisible man, made his way through the world, believing that he could only change the world if he worked within the white man's rules. "Yessuh, yessuh! Though invisible I would be their assuring voice of denial..." (Ellison 515) He made himself, invisible, but rejected blindness, as he attempted to elicit change. "Why should I worry over bureaucrats, blind men? I am invisible." (528) the invisible man's illicit white lover, having exposed him to one of the most extreme of all white-black stereotypes, that of the sexually ravenous black man and the seeking white woman, drunkenly states that she wishes life were different, "life could be so diff'rent-" and the narrator responds with learned wisdom, "But it never is." (227)
To IM, who believes "that great false wisdom taught to slaves and pragmatists alike that white is right," Norton is a force, a God- not a man. "I can tell you his destiny," the veteran continues to Norton. "He'll do your bidding and for that his blindness is his chief asset" (IM, 87 -88). The descent as they leave is not just the descent from the quiet room into the chaos of the barroom brawl but, metaphorically, into the chaos of real life, the reality that denies the myth of upward mobility. It is the motif of the descent into humanity that adumbrates IM's later descent into himself. But Norton refuses to hear as he has refused to see. The appeal to recognize the humanity involved arouses only his anger. And the narrator runs after him, afraid of getting into trouble with the school authorities.
The eventual message of the veterinarian, as they meet on a bus and the narrator learns that he was also expelled from his post at the school is one that echoes his grandfather's opening words. Learn the rules and live within them, while still maintaining understanding of yourself and the world. The individual black man must understand himself, be wise to the world and live invisible to keep himself safe.
He tells IM, "Play the game but don't believe in it.... Play the game but play it your own way." This seems an echo of his grandfather's deathbed statement in the language of the next generation. The veteran continues, "Learn how it operates, learn how you operate.... Be your own father, young man. And remember the world is possibility if only you'll discover it" (IM, 137 -39).However, the narrator continues his journey north with his "mind laced up." Truth for IM will come only after he asks himself the same question.
The dream can only be realized, for a black man if he, to a certain degree embraces the stereotypes and lives within the system, to which he was born. The problem for the narrator is a message of the universal problem of any black man.