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Ralph Ellison's Battle Royal - Research Paper Example

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Ralph Ellison’s “Battle Royal”
The author depicts through the narrator, the hardship of the African- American and how they at the same time want to please the very people who look down on them as an inferior race because of their color…
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Ralph Ellisons Battle Royal
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Download file to see previous pages In the short story, the nameless protagonist struggles to find his place in a society where his people were treated as slaves and untouchables in the early 20th Century. During this time, the black people were facing a severe identity crisis as they were treated as an inferior race. Many of them were slaves of the white people and were viewed by them as people should be looked down or frown upon by the society. There was a constant misunderstanding in the society as the African American struggled to be treated as equals. They were treated as a property and not as a human being who constantly struggled at the hands of their merciless owners. Their quest to reclaim their identity was a long and difficult struggle, especially during the civil war. In the short story, the author uses a nameless young black narrator living in the south to illustrate the theme of racial crisis that the African Americans faced in America during the early 20th century.
The story begins with the narrator thinking about the day his grandfather passed away. He vividly remembers the things his grandfather said to him, and these words haunt him for many years. His grandfather said to him, “son, after I'm gone I want you to keep up the good fight. I never told you, but I have been a traitor all my born days, a spy in the enemy's country ever since I gave up my gun back in the Reconstruction. Live with your head in the lion's mouth. I want you to overcome them with yeses, undermine them with grins, agree them to death and destruction, let them swallow you till they vomit or bust wide open. Learn it to the young ones” (Ellison para. 2). Because of what his grandfather told him, the protagonist grows up to be good citizen in the eyes of the white people. He attends schools and become an educated man. In his graduation speech he gives a speech about the importance of greatness and humility. His whole life revolves around a speech. He knows the values and importance of a good speech, but at the same it also made him blind to the reality around him. The speech is central to the short story as it brings out the changes in the narrator’s life. In his first speech he urges his fellow African- American to advance in life through humility and submission. But, his last speech which he gives after the royal battle is completely different from his first speech. He now understands the world around him and the cruelty shown by the white men. The narrator delivers his speech with blood in his mouth and swallowing his blood throughout the speech. The main theme of the short story is the theme of racism. Throughout the short story, the narrator finds himself in a situation where the white men dominate him and taught him how to behave in a society. “The entire story centers on an anonymous, young black man's painful acceptance of his social alienation, which is so extreme that he has virtually no control over the sequence of events that directs the course of his life” (F Callahan 254). Although the narrator tries to refine himself through the ideologies and the values of the white people, they cannot pass his color. The prescribed role of the society limits him to play an inauthentic part in the society. The racial prejudice of others enable them to see only what they want they want to see and not the reality. They limit themselves to see a young black man in a narrator and not a young man who thrives to define his identity through the values of the ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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