Battle Royal By Ralph Ellison

Decent Essays

It is undeniable that the short story by Ralph Ellison entitled “Battle Royal” is an intense one. It would be hard to walk away from reading his story without feeling some kind of emotion whether it be pain, sadness, fear, anger, or all of the above. This story portrays a black man, the invisible man, in the time when racism is still running rampant. He uses symbolism many times in order to portray meaning and delve deep into the mind and emotions of the main character, a black man. In the story, a white woman is dancing naked with an American flag tattooed on her body symbolizing the irony of the American way. This woman is being used to represent America which should mean liberty and freedom for all but instead, women and blacks are being treated like animals. “Battle Royal” begins with a flashback of when the invisible man was just a boy, and he overhears his dying grandfather’s last words. As he is on his deathbed he states, “I want you to overcome ‘em with yeses, undermine ‘em with grins, agree ‘em to death and destruction, let ‘em swoller you till they vomit or bust wide open.” (IN TEXT CITATION) His grandfather’s statements meant that he wanted his family to smile in the white man’s face and do what they say. In other words, kill them with kindness until they cannot take it anymore. These words stayed with the invisible man haunting him long into adulthood. Once in a while he would find himself doing exactly what his grandfather had asked and would feel an

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