Battle Royal - Ralph Ellison Research Paper

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Battle of a Black Man Ralph Ellison made it clear that Invisible Man was not based on his own experiences. In an interview, he stated, “Let me say right now that my book is not an autobiographical work.” However, it is clear that his culture and the time period of his upbringing affected his writing. This is particularly seen in his descriptions of the treatment of blacks, the African American society, and the revelation of the narrator. Like the characters in “Battle Royal”, African Americans have to fight each other in real life because whites leave them so little (Brent 2). The white society sees itself as superior; therefore, it does not provide for African Americans. Blacks are then forced to compete within themselves in life. To…show more content…
The treatment of blacks is frightening. The white society really believes that blacks deserve no better. In his article “Imagery in the ‘Battle Royal’ Chapter of Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man,” Norman German states, “the animal imagery graphically highlights Ellison’s theme that when one sex or race treats another as an object or animal, both become dehumanized or bestial” (1). Ellison stated, “Much of the rhetorical and political energy of white society went toward proving to itself that we were not human” (German 2). The white men in “Battle Royal” not only treat the young black men as animals, or objects, but also the stripper. Therefore, they become animals themselves. Ellison once said, “Our social mobility was strictly, and violently, limited” (German 2). The black society is portrayed in a special way in “Battle Royal.” The boxing ring of the Battle symbolizes the confinement of blacks in their society (German 2). The whites are always superior, and the blacks are constantly held back and left fighting. “The story’s title, ‘Battle Royal,’ suggests that the incidents described in the narrative are just one battle in the ongoing racial war” (Brent 2). There is constant controversy between whites and blacks, so far as it is described as a war. In the grandfather’s speech, he describes it as a war, and he states that he wants the narrator to “keep up the good fight.” He then explains how the narrator should do so; he orders him “Live with your head in the lion’s

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