What and how much had I lost by trying to do only what was expected of me instead of what I myself had wished to do? ..... And my mind revolved again and again back to my grandfather ..... Perhaps he hid his meaning deeper than I thought, perhaps his anger threw me off - I can't decide. Could he have meant - hell, he must have meant the principle, that we were to affirm the principle on which the country was built and not the men, or at least not the men who did the violence. Did he mean say "yes" because he knew that the principle was greater than the men, greater than the numbers and the vicious power and all the methods used to corrupt its name? ..... Had he seen that we had to say "yes" to the principle, lest they turn upon us to destroy both it and us?
- Ralph Ellison, Invisible Man, 1952