Battle Royal. Ralph Ellison.

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The author builds this story around racial discrimination and bigotry. He shows the intense lack of human compassion that whites had for black people. He portrays the white people as predators that force the black people to revert to animalistic survival skills. The story is built on the discrimination that was prevalent in their society. There would be no conflict or basis for this tale in today’s society. While some people today are still racially intolerant, harsh acts of violence and abuse are not permitted. The narrator states that although blacks have been told they are free they are still restricted to their own areas of segregation. “About eighty five years ago they were told that they were free, united with others of our country in everything pertaining to the common good, and, in everything social, separate like the fingers of the hand.” (pg. 285-286) The author states exactly what was going on in the time of this story. Black people were no longer enslaved but were still subject to segregation in all parts of society. When the protagonist is subject to the discrimination and bigotry I think he is surprised. I felt like he had never experienced racism to the extent that he did that day. I believe that he walked into the “smoker” believing the white people were actually interested in what he had to say. He was even prideful thinking that he was better than the other boys he was forced into the elevator with “I felt superior to them in my way, and I didn’t like the manner in which we were all crowded together into the servants’ elevator” (pg. 287). The author writes about them being packed into this elevator designated for “servants.” I pictured animals set for slaughter, which was not far from what the battle was, packed into a cart terrified and bewildered. Perhaps the young man believed that times had changed from when his grandfather was alive. Like the average teenager he may have believed that no one can...
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