The story “Battle Royal” is about a black boy living in a racist white society. The narrator’s central struggle involves the conflict between how others see him, and how he sees himself. The problem was that he wasn’t aware off whom he actually was, nor was he aware off the racism going on around him. In order to free himself from it, he first had to realize that it existed. Only by doing that he could start recognizing himself as a special individual and not just someone who belonged to the inferior race.
On his deathbed, the narrator’s grandfather advises his family to be obedient, “good slaves” on the outside, while on the inside they should be aware off who they were and use that as an advantage. “I want you to overcome’em with yeses, undermine’em with grins” (231). But unlike his grandfather, the narrator felt that only true obedience would give him the respect and acknowledgement of white people, because he believed that was needed in order to become successful in life. “I felt that only these men could judge, truly, my ability...” (236). But to them, he was invisible. Invisible in the way that the only thing they saw when they looked at him was a black boy, not a human being. He was nothing more than an object to them, “a ginger-colored nigger” (234). They saw him only as they wanted to see him. He wasn’t heard either, because while he was delivering his speech they only laughed at him or ignored him. But he did get their attention when he said by mistake, or maybe even subconsciously, “social equality” instead of “social responsibility”. Then they made sure he “knew his place at all times” (239). By their opinion, that was the place of someone who belonged to the inferior race and couldn’t possibly be equal to them. He was also forced to fight the Battle Royal against his black schoolmates. They were wearing blindfolds, which represented their blindness to the kind of society they lived in. A society where white people dominated and created the rules...
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