Figurative Language In Ralph Ellison's Battle Royal

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Ralph Ellison’s “Battle Royal” is a short story exemplifying how an African American slave descendant fits in a white man’s world post slavery, a continued fight against racism, and their yearning for equality. This story centers on a teenaged African American protagonist, as he faces his deepest uncertainties when he realizes his success in life may be hopeless shortly after hearing his grandfather’s startling final words. Although a year is not mentioned, this story is published in the late 1940s. Ellison takes us on a journey depicting African American’s oppression post slavery era with the main character through the use of figurative language, tone, and symbolism/allegory. A review of these three literary tools will reveal the main character’s…show more content…
Ellison’s main character suggests that African Americans’ hopes, dreams, and freedoms in America, are basically ideal if only kept “separate like the fingers of the hand” (para. 2). The most profound statements like this were used to describe the main character’s thoughts of insecurity during the battle and what he was up against living in a white society. Ellison’s main character claims, “I had suddenly found myself in a dark room filled with poisonous cottonmouths” (para. 11). This language added a disturbing layer of fear with a twist of uncertainty to the story showing that the African Americans were in the biggest battle of their life. In addition, prejudice, torment, and hate was an extra layer elaborated on throughout. Ellison’s main character proclaimed during the battle, “he came at me as though he meant to beat it out of me” (para. 28). We see the throughout, that violence and struggles the African Americans encountered were heightened until the very end of the story, as threats were alluded in every conversation and contact with the white man. This formation of precise verbiage Ellison offers actually helps to convey the intensity of stress and anxiety African Americans faced and still do face
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