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Male Chauvinism In Ralph Waldo Ellison's The Invisible Man

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American poet, scholar and critic Adrienne Rich once insightfully penned, "It's exhilarating to be alive in a time of awakening consciousness; it can also be confusing, disorienting, and painful" (Rich 2). By using literature as a weapon against oppression and a channel for her ambition, Rich's work correlates to that of American novelist, Ralph Waldo Ellison. In Ellison's The Invisible Man (1952), the “Battle Royal” scene allows insight into the protagonist's examination and reevaluation of his own notion of the roles dignity and humility come into play within his life. With each exploitative act in the scenes of “Battle Royal”, Ellison unveils the belligerence of white American male chauvinism in the early- to mid-twentieth century. Having successfully graduated high school with the highest of honors, the protagonist begins his internal dialogue by attempting to interpret the meanings of his late grandfather's last words of wisdom and warning- instructions to "overcome 'em with yeses, undermine 'em with grins," and an admission to fighting an endless battle (2). The reader may deduce that while achieving success within the protagonist's own community, perhaps he has not yet been exposed to the covert, post-slavery, white male chauvinism that still affects America's society in the twenty-first century. To further demonstrate this, and with a cleverly disguised use of irony, Ellison has the main character deliver a valedictory speech that emphasizes humility as the secret
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