Ralph Ellison Battle Royal Summary

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In the short story “Battle Royal”, written by Ralph Ellison, the author addresses social issues facing black individuals concerning the inability to advance against the racial hierarchy. The author depicts the struggles of the unnamed black narrator’s efforts in advancing in a world that predominately favors the works of white individuals. Throughout the composition, the author’s use of vivid imagery and metaphoric reflections of the battle royal, recreates the disillusion of the realities of racism and how it ultimately affects the black consciousness. In contrast “Meaning of a Word”, written by Gloria Naylor details the definition of power and the different meanings that the usage of the racial slur “nigger” may have within different racial…show more content…
According to “Battle Royal”, the only time the presence of a black person is seen relevant is when it is used for the masochistic entertainment of the white spectators. In particular, the black men are blindly forced to bring physical harm to one another in subordination of the entertainment desires of the high class white audience. The narrator’s school’s superintendent and other professional white citizens yell aggressively at the boys in the ring and utilize harsh racial slurs to address them. As stated in the passage,” Let me at that big nigger... Let me at those black sonabitches, someone yelled... I wanted to get at that ginger-colored nigger, tear him limb from limb” (Ellison 188). These black men were diminished to an animalistic caricature and treated as less than human for the enjoyment of these wealthy white citizens. After the battle, golden coins, which were a mixture of real and fake currency were thrown onto the electrified rug where the young men relentlessly scrambled for their compensation. Considering this, the action widely assumed that the black men who attended the event were not intelligent enough to determine the difference between real and counterfeit money. This demeaning gesture and use of racial slurs actively denounce the existence and significance of the black…show more content…
These constraints are used to distort and dismiss the true identities of the narrators and simply associate them with that of a racial group that exemplifies what it means to be held inferior and less than human. Comparatively, the experiences of both narrators illustrate the overall realities the majority of black individuals find themselves struggling with by trying to accurately define themselves on a spectrum that does not revolve around their race. Moreover, the humiliation of having to submit to the expectations of high class white citizens conflict with both narrators as they try to avoid racial anxieties and redefine the concept of self in a way that does not negatively impact their mental
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