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Analyzing Battle Royal by Ralph Ellison - Essay Example

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Instructor Date An Analysis of the Short Story, Battle Royal by Ralph Ellison Battle loyal is a short story by Ralph Ellison. The short story also forms the first chapter of his book ‘Invisible Man.’ The story tells the experiences of a young African American man living at a time when racism and segregation was practiced…
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Download file to see previous pages The narrator also avoids giving direct statements that show the suffering that the African Americans suffered. Despite the societal pressure, he manages to show their struggles through symbolic representations. The story therefore deals with the fight by a minority in a society to find their rightful place and fight the prejudice that is directed towards them. The African American is also seeking his self-identity in the story. He no longer wishes to be the ‘invisible man’ (15). The novel was written at a time when slavery had been abolished, but the racial discrimination was still widespread and widely acceptable. The events of the ‘Battle Royal’ are used to bring to the attention the issues that faced the African Americans in their day-to-day struggle for equal rights and self-identity. In the story, many symbols are used to bring forth the meaning in the story. The main symbol in the story is the narrator. He remains unnamed to show that he is representative of the entire African American community. He refers to himself as an ‘...invisible man’ (15). The invisibility that the narrator is speaking about represents the unwillingness by the society to see the African American as an empowered individual with equal capabilities. The narrator is graduating from high school, yet the whites will not recognize his intellectual capacity. When they invite him to give a graduation speech, they subject him to several humiliating activities. In his struggle to find his rightful place in the society, the narrator is willing to subject himself to humiliation. The expectations that he had of the way the white men would behave as he read his speech are however crushed. He previously stated that he had ‘visualized myself as a potential Booker T. Washington’ (17). While he had expected them to have an appreciation of knowledge, he finds them rejoicing at the humiliation of the African American boys and of the white woman forced to dance naked for them. His expectation to deliver his speech for the town’s respected men is not realized. He is willing to subject himself to a violent boxing match as he feels that this will help him get closer to achieving his dream. After subjecting himself to the humiliation of the ‘Battle loyal’, he is rewarded with a scholarship to attend college. He is willing to forget the humiliation that he had to subject himself to for an opportunity to attend college, which he feels, is his opportunity to get a sense of self and reach his dream. The Battle loyal is also symbolic of the humiliations and struggles that the African American community is subjected to. During the battle, a group of African American men are blindfolded and forced to fight each other for the entertainment of the white crowd. Before the fight starts, they are forced to watch a naked white woman in an erotic dance. The narrator is confused as to whether he should look at the woman or what he should do. He says ‘…My teeth chattered, my skin turned to goose flesh, my knees knocked. Yet I was strongly attracted and looked in spite of myself" (19). The erotic dance that is performed is a way for the white men to put the black men in a position to lose. While it is in their nature to want to look at the white woman, the fact that she is white means that she is taboo for them. Just like is the situation in their life, the black men ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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