Room for Growth

1051 Words5 Pages
So Much More Room for Growth
The protagonist of “Battle Royal” by Ralph Ellison undergoes a tentative initiation. An initiation story is a story of acquiring, whether accidental or on purpose, information about oneself. Mordecai Marcus breaks initiation stories into three parts: tentative, uncompleted, and decisive. Marcus writes in his essay, “What Is an Initiation Story?” that tentative “initiations lead only to the threshold of maturity and understanding but leave them enmeshed in a struggle for certainty” (288). The Narrator of the story is the protagonist, who goes through “the shocking effect of experience” in a battle royal (Marcus, 288). Also, the Narrator is “distinctly young” and quite innocent (Marcus, 288). He doesn’t know
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At this time, “separate, but equal” was in effect, but not practiced correctly, because thing were separate, but not equal. When the Narrator “mistakenly” says “social equality” the crowd “[shouts] hostile phrases at [him]”, they believe it must be a mistake and asks that “[he wasn’t] being smart”. The Narrator says that he “did not understand” why there was a “sudden stillness” in the room when he says “social equality”, he still does not see that he is “invisible” to the white men. No anger or fury burn in his heart about not being equal or accepted by the white men due to the color of his skin. According to his grandfather he should have corrected his speech like a ‘good slave”, but have “agree’em[d] to death and destruction” (Ellison, 278).
The Narrator is presented with a briefcase after he completes his speech. He becomes moved and touched by the words from one of the town’s leaders, “He makes a good speech… this is a good, smart boy, and so to encourage him in the right direction”. The Narrator misses the irony so badly. Firstly, the townsmen almost forgot to let him say his speech, which was the main reason he was invited to the smoker. Then, they don’t even listen to his speech or respond until he says “social responsibility” or “social equality”, and it is only to put him in his place as a black “boy”. Blood dribbles down the briefcase as a symbol of what he gave up as a human being just for a

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