Archetypes In Battle Royal

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In Ralph Ellison’s short story “Battle Royal”, the unnamed narrator had to deal with the oblique acts of racism that constantly affects the social class and individual identity of the oppressed African Americans during that time. It is easy to see that due to the color of his skin, this bright youth is brutally sabotaged by the white-dominated society in which he lives in. As a master of poetic devices, Ellison incorporates numerous symbols and archetypes into this short story, providing a unique perspective on the narrative and supporting concept of invisibility and identity. Though I do believe that the main point of this entire story can be wrapped around the concept of racial inequality, which is expressed by the actions of how this boy…show more content…
The horror begins when the narrator listens to a conversation between his father and grandfather, all while the elderly man laid on his deathbed. The narrator's grandfather told the boy to “live with your head in the lion’s mouth. 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 other words his grandfather was telling him to conform to the white people’s way of life in order to get ahead. If the reader were to take a deeper look into all of the symbolism in the story, one would find that the summation is equal to not only the struggle of this one black boy, but the struggle of all African Americans at the time in which this story takes place. It is clear that the only way for a black to excel at that time was to conform to the white society. Any rebels that tried to stand up for their rights were mostly killed by anti-black groups such as the KKK. Initially, the story seems to be about one black boy’s struggle to get ahead in a predominantly white society, but then he tries’ to accomplish this goal by adhering to his grandfather's dying and cowardly words in order to conform to this rotten
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