Battle Royal Ralph Ellison Analysis

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I. The narrator’s deferential perception of white people indicates the naivety which will ultimately lead to his struggles with morality. A. In his youth, the narrator callously casts away his roots and neglects the need for social progress for all of his people. 1. The narrator’s blatant disregard for his people is demonstrated when he expresses “how [he] hated the black-belt people, the peasants” (Ellison 47) because their depraved status threatened his own role as a model black student and citizen. 2. The derogatory manner in which he refers to the black sharecroppers – especially Jim Trueblood - indicates that he places personal advancement over the advancement of his own race. a. Even during the battle royal, the narrator’s arrogant sense of superiority over the other blacks…show more content…
The most significant injustice which the narrator is blind to is the social inequality between white and black people. 1. Dazzled by the tantalizing yet superficial promise of success and power, the narrator passively accepts white superiority in order to curry favor with them. a. He is so absorbed with “flatter[ing] rich white folks” (38) that he fails to question why he must act subservient in the first place b. As the narrator unconsciously throws away his self-respect, he also exhibits the inability to make clear moral judgements on issues which seem undoubtedly wrong and unethical. 2. By expressing reverence for Mr. Bledsoe, who “had achieved power and authority” (101), and concerning himself with success as opposed to the fundamental racism in society, the narrator reinforces his naivety and moral immaturity. II. Bledsoe’s cold betrayal allows the narrator to glean a more heightened sense of what is right and wrong, although certain lapses in his morality still remain as he begins his life in Harlem. A. As the narrator witnesses the injustice which the black people in Harlem experience, he begins to develop a sense of obligation towards them which he had never felt
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