Essay on Ralph Ellison's Battle Royal

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The native Africans' heritage and way of life were forever altered by the white slave drivers who took them into captivity in the 18th century. Along with their freedom, slaves were also robbed of their culture and consequently their identities. They became property instead of people, leaving them at the hands of merciless slave owners. Their quest to reclaim their stolen identities was a long and difficult struggle, especially in the years following the Civil War and the subsequent release of their people from bondage. In Ralph Ellison's 1948 short story "Battle Royal," he uses the point of view of a young black man living in the south to convey the theme of racial identity crisis that faced African Americans in the United States…show more content…
Other members of his family think the man is delirious and warn the children witnessing it to forget what they have heard. I.M. describes his grandfather as "an odd old guy, my grandfather, and I am told I take after him" (556). Being the grandchild that was most like him, he clearly understood the old man's message and could never escape from its hold on him. Ellison's use of I.M.'s point of view sets the stage for the rest of the story. Seen from an outside witness or even from another member of the family, this scene could be quite different. Only I.M. seems to take the message to heart and use it wisely. From this point on, I.M.'s point of view is crucial to the development of the story's theme. As a so-called "ginger-colored" African American, as well as being intelligent and well spoken, I.M. gives another interesting point of view. Not accepted by whites, he is also somewhat of an outsider to his own race. He even mentions that "I felt superior to them [other black boys] in my way" (557). Clearly, this situation alone would give rise to identity issues and questions regarding where and with whom he belongs. Once inside the ring for the battle royal, he is bombarded
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