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Battle Royal Analysis
Battle Royal is a short story written by a renowned American novelist named Ralph
Ellison. It is one among many chapters of the book Invisible Man told from a first person
narrative point of view. The narrator expresses his thoughts, perceptions, emotions and views
detailing various points of life moments; past and present. It is however vital to take into account
that the first person narrative is very subjective and that the narrated events may and may not be
factual. Nevertheless, they are true to the eyes of the narrator in regard to their perceptions and
life experience. As a result, the readers and general audience experience the short story
intimately through the eyes of one of its main participant. The main protagonist is a young black
boy who struggles to find his place in a largely white society. He continuously tries to achieve
his goals through adhering to his dying grandfather’s words, “Live with your head in the Lion’s
mouth. Ralph Ellison (1994, p.230). The primary focus of the story is continued occurrence of
racial profiling and racial inequality, issues of gender and class where the narrator (one of the
black community members) must accept and acknowledge as he searches his identity in the
white America.
Ralph Ellison (1994), explores in depth the words of the grandfather to his grandson, “I
want you to overcome the with yeses, undermine them with grins, agree ‘em to death with
destruction, let them swallow you till they vomit or bust wide open” (p.230). This indicates that
his grandfather wanted him to fit in in the white man’s society. The theme of symbolism plays a
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vital role in how Ellison’s story takes its course. I believe the author tried to pass an even deeper
meaning to his audience. The story not only symbolizes the young boys life but also the
hardships that the people of color had to endure as the minority in the white man’s land.
The narrator of the story was born and raised in the southern region of the United states.
He, however, later moved to Ney York city suburbs, in a small neighborhood called Harlem. The
neighborhood is a world renowned center for the black community and the black culture as
explained by (Hutchinson, 1995). He is dumbfounded by what he witnesses, there is a huge
difference between the south and the north according to his perception, he finds it interesting that
the white drivers adhered to the instructions given by black traffic policemen. Moreover, the
narrator also claims to have more freedom in the north as compared to the south. Perception of
who an individual is was placed solely on their racial background. Eventually, it is only through
plunging into a manhole and remaining invisible from the eye of the white man society that the
speaker can attend to his matters in a setting that allowed him to be himself.
The writer has managed to establish a strong ideology through characterization in the
narrative. Ralph illustrates the lonely speaker’s quest in his scramble for his identity as well as
his apprehension of his life moments. The establishment of various character lays a vital bedrock
for his comprehension. Through the difficulties of corruption and deceit, the speaker traverses
through a series of events and occasions which in a way enriches his contributions and
experience as he struggles to discover his true identity. The “invisible man is the main speaker.
Since he tells the story from his own perception, we the audience/readers cannot ascertain
whether his memories are factual or otherwise. Furthermore, rather than posing a judgement, a
reader has no choice but to understand that the story is solely based on its writer’s perception
speaking from a personal level. He therefore, helps shed some light in what the reader may have
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had a hard time realizing on their own. The use of thoughtful and frank tone, enables the story to
contain a reflective edge crucial for capturing the reader’s attention.
The theme of symbolism has extensively been applied by the writer in the entirety of the
short story. For instance, the flag tattooed on the belly of the dancing woman (Ellison, 233) can
be viewed as a representation of how the US was perceived by the writer (a black man) in the
twentieth century. Additionally, the flag that being carried by a woman as she dances while the
real flag hangs on a pole illustrates how the issue of racism had been deep rooted even in the
nation’s political systems. The battle royal, from the title of the short story can be defined as a
reflection of the conflicts within the racial confines, fueled by the white men in town.
Consequently, the student inflict pain on each other while blindfolded. This is the same way the
event held was meant to inflict pain on colored student present.
The scenery created by the writer depicts a chaotic environment where we see the electric
rug (Ellison, 238) which shows true nature of the event as a switch and bait. The narrator
scrambles to reach out to the gold coins (Ellison, 241) which actually turn out to be brass. The
respect and applause he thought he would receive from the audience was never accorded to him.
Even while giving out his speech, a moment that was his to reckon with ended up as unexpected.
The injuries he received form the fight caused him to choke, therefore, his words ended up losing
the true meaning he had intended. Nonetheless, in order to effectively utter his message of
compliance and humility, he must swallow his own blood, a tough reminder of the pain and
violence he had to endure in the hands of his tormentors. The narrator’s failure of words provides
another opportunity for the majority white supremacists to remind him that he must always keep
in mind where his place is in the society. The “gleaming calfskin (Ellison, 241) of the briefcase
handed to the narrator reaffirms the casual treatment of flesh accorded by the white men as he
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accepts the prize, “a rope of bloody saliva… drool upon the leather (Ellison, 241). Although
the award may seem as if supportive to the narrators hope for the future, it was actually given as
an afterthought of the battle royal, tainted by the same violence hew was condemning. Towards
the end on the narrative it is evident that the narrator’s dreams highlighted the misinterpretation
of his grandpa’s advice.
Conclusively, the story is very significant as it demonstrates the inequality that existed in
the United States at the time. It is however worth noting that the acts of the time have not fully
been done away with. There are still some instances where we hear of happenings regarding
racial profiling, discrimination and oppression even in the modern times (D'souza, 1995). The
writer has given a good illustration of how what it was like growing up as a young black boy,
determined to bring an end to what he perceived as wrongs of the society. The kind of
determination brought out by the narrator to abide and adhere to the advice instituted by his
grandfather is appalling. The story gives us a general outline of what it was like living under the
subjection of racism, gender imbalance and social classism. This essay has highlighted the style
applied by the writer in setting out his message to the general audience. Furthermore, the themes
and aspects of symbolism, characterization, plot, setting, tone and the final meaning have all
been highlighted.
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Work Cited
D'souza, Dinesh. The end of racism: Principles for a multiracial society. New York: Free Press,
1995.
Ellison, Ralph. "Battle royal." The compact Bedford introduction to literature (1994): 286-295.
Hutchinson, George. The Harlem Renaissance in black and white. Harvard University Press,
1995.

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Surname 1 Student's name Instructor Course Date Battle Royal Analysis Battle Royal is a short story written by a renowned American novelist named Ralph Ellison. It is one among many chapters of the book “Invisible Man” told from a first person narrative point of view. The narrator expresses his thoughts, perceptions, emotions and views detailing various points of life moments; past and present. It is however vital to take into account that the first person narrative is very subjective and that the narrated events may and may not be factual. Nevertheless, they are true to the eyes of the narrator in regard to their perceptions and life experience. As a result, the readers and general audience experience the short story intimately through the eyes of one of its main participant. The main protagonist is a young black boy who struggles to find his place in a largely white society. He continuously tries to achieve his goals through adhering to his dying grandfather’s words, “Live with your head in the Lion’s mouth.” Ralph Ellison (1994, p.230). The primary focus of the story is continued occurrence of racial profiling and racial inequality, issues of gender and class where the narrator (one of the black community members) must accept and acknowledge as he searches his identity in the white America. Ralph Ellison (1994), explores in depth the words of the grandfather to his grandson, “I want you to overcome the with yeses, undermine them with grins, agree ‘em to death with destruction, let them swallow you till they vomit or bust wide open” (p.230). This indicates that his grandfather wanted him to fit in in the white man’s society. The theme of symbolism plays a Surname 2 vital role in how Ellison’s story takes its course. I believe the author tried to pass an even deeper meaning to his audience. The story not only symbolizes the young boy’s life but also the hardships that the people of color had to endure as the minority in the white man’s land. The narrator of the story was born and raised in the southern region of the United states. He, however, later moved to Ney York city suburbs, in a small neighborhood called Harlem. The neighborhood is a world renowned center for the black community and the black culture as explained by (Hutchinson, 1995). He is dumbfounded by what he witnesses, there is a huge difference between the south and the north according to his perception, he finds it interesting that the white drivers adhered to the instructions given by black traffic policemen. Moreover, the narrator also claims to have more freedom in the north as compared to the south. Perception of who an individual is was placed solely on their racial background. Eventually, it is only through plunging into a manhole and remaining invisible from the eye of the white man society that the speaker can attend to his matters in a setting that allowed him to be himself. The writer has managed to establish a strong ideology through characterization in the narrative. Ralph illustrates the lonely speaker’s quest in his scramble for his identity as well as his apprehension of his life moments. The establishment of various character lays a vital bedrock for his comprehension. Through the difficulties of corruption and deceit, the speaker traverses through a series of events and occasions which in a way enriches his contributions and experience as he struggles to discover his true identity. The “invisible man” is the main speaker. Since he tells the story from his own perception, we the audience/readers cannot ascertain whether his memories are factual or otherwise. Furthermore, rather than posing a judgement, a reader has no choice but to understand that the story is solely based on its writer’s perception speaking from a personal level. He therefore, helps shed some light in what the reader may have Surname 3 had a hard time realizing on their own. The use of thoughtful and frank tone, enables the story to contain a reflective edge crucial for capturing the reader’s attention. The theme of symbolism has extensively been applied by the writer in the entirety of the short story. For instance, the flag tattooed on the belly of the dancing woman (Ellison, 233) can be viewed as a representation of how the US was perceived by the writer (a black man) in the twentieth century. Additionally, the flag that being carried by a woman as she dances while the real flag hangs on a pole illustrates how the issue of racism had been deep rooted even in the nation’s political systems. The battle royal, from the title of the short story can be defined as a reflection of the conflicts within the racial confines, fueled by the white men in town. Consequently, the student inflict pain on each other while blindfolded. This is the same way the event held was meant to inflict pain on colored student present. The scenery created by the writer depicts a chaotic environment where we see the electric rug (Ellison, 238) which shows true nature of the event as a switch and bait. The narrator scrambles to reach out to the gold coins (Ellison, 241) which actually turn out to be brass. The respect and applause he thought he would receive from the audience was never accorded to him. Even while giving out his speech, a moment that was his to reckon with ended up as unexpected. The injuries he received form the fight caused him to choke, therefore, his words ended up losing the true meaning he had intended. Nonetheless, in order to effectively utter his message of compliance and humility, he must swallow his own blood, a tough reminder of the pain and violence he had to endure in the hands of his tormentors. The narrator’s failure of words provides another opportunity for the majority white supremacists to remind him that he must “always keep in mind where his place is in the society.” The “gleaming calfskin” (Ellison, 241) of the briefcase handed to the narrator reaffirms the casual treatment of flesh accorded by the white men as he Surname 4 accepts the prize, “a rope of bloody saliva… drool upon the leather” (Ellison, 241). Although the award may seem as if supportive to the narrators hope for the future, it was actually given as an afterthought of the battle royal, tainted by the same violence hew was condemning. Towards the end on the narrative it is evident that the narrator’s dreams highlighted the misinterpretation of his grandpa’s advice. Conclusively, the story is very significant as it demonstrates the inequality that existed in the United States at the time. It is however worth noting that the acts of the time have not fully been done away with. There are still some instances where we hear of happenings regarding racial profiling, discrimination and oppression even in the modern times (D'souza, 1995). The writer has given a good illustration of how what it was like growing up as a young black boy, determined to bring an end to what he perceived as wrongs of the society. The kind of determination brought out by the narrator to abide and adhere to the advice instituted by his grandfather is appalling. The story gives us a general outline of what it was like living under the subjection of racism, gender imbalance and social classism. This essay has highlighted the style applied by the writer in setting out his message to the general audience. Furthermore, the themes and aspects of symbolism, characterization, plot, setting, tone and the final meaning have all been highlighted. Surname 5 Work Cited D'souza, Dinesh. The end of racism: Principles for a multiracial society. New York: Free Press, 1995. Ellison, Ralph. "Battle royal." The compact Bedford introduction to literature (1994): 286-295. Hutchinson, George. The Harlem Renaissance in black and white. Harvard University Press, 1995. Name: Description: ...
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