Ralph Ellison Influence On Society

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Every society has predetermined circumstances in which people will follow. Many go about their lives following the crowd and do not challenge the existing state of affairs. However, some become irritated with the conditions of the society they reside in. They gradually think different, become defiant, and finally attempt to enact change or literally escape to a different environment. Throughout history, many people rose above the status quo and were able to create everlasting change, like Booker T. Washington and Martin Luther King Jr. Then again, many others would reside in the shadows of a society they came to reject. Some might even attempt to conform to no avail and end up an outcast, by their own choice. For instance, in Ralph Ellison’s …show more content…

He was quite thrilled about it and just as excited about giving a speech to his peers. However, the setting of the speech was as not as he expected. At the location of his speech, men of high status in his community engaged in a bit of debauchery around a boxing ring. The protagonist ended up fighting in a “battle royal” for their entertainment. Instead of anger towards his peers, he feels the need to give his speech, after enduring so much physical pain for the amusement of his superiors. It was one of many ways the protagonist showed compliancy to anyone of greater authority or status over his own. The source of such submission was his grandfather’s last words. They resonated within him and influenced most of his choices and actions when he encountered someone with power. “ ‘ 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’ ”( Ellison 16). The protagonist was of African descent. His grandfather explained to the protagonist to appease the people of higher class, which were mainly white individuals who had more rights than blacks at the time. The grandfather had hoped for the protagonist to be kind to whites to the point of their frustration. Yet the protagonist developed a need to appease anyone of a higher …show more content…

Bledsoe even makes rather insensitive remarks about his own African brethren to show off his reach in the white community. The protagonist attempted to defend himself and tried to explain how he did not mean Norton any harm. He later verbally lashes out at Bledsoe about his innocence and even remarks how Norton even says he is not to blame. The protagonist shows much frustration at this instance, yet is again yielding with Bledsoe, who would later expel him. The protagonist even hoped to work, as Bledsoe’s assistant, after their verbal altercation showing much compliance. Even as he moved up North to work to pay his last year at the college, he still has Bledsoe in mind. “Give them what they wanted down south, that was the way. If Dr. Bledsoe could do it, so could I”(Ellison 164). While entering New York, the protagonist held letters from Bledsoe with clear instructions not to open them. The letters were meant for his contacts to align the protagonist with a job. After being reluctant for quite some time, one interview ended in great disappointment. The letters explained how the protagonist it to never return to the college during an interview with the son of a business tycoon. He says about the protagonist “ ‘ambition is a wonderful force…but sometimes it can be blinding’ ”( Ellison 184). The protagonist has indeed been very ambitious in his efforts to acquire a job to pay for schooling, yet failed to see Bledsoe’s true intentions of

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