“You Got To Do What You Got To Do, To Get Where You Got to Get”
In Ralph Ellison’s story “Battle Royal”, Ralph’s dying grandfather gives his son advice on how to advance in life as a black person, in the United States. Ralph’s grandfather said, “I want you to overcome ‘em with yeses, undermine ‘em with grins, agree ‘em to death…”(1042). Basically, by being really nice to white people, he could gain favor and possibly be rewarded for his obedience. Ralph, took his grandfathers advice, and was eventually invited to a meeting with important white people, to deliver a speech he had written for graduation. Once he arrived, he was forced to fight in a battle royal against his wishes. All he wanted to do through the whole ordeal was to deliver his speech. When the battle royal was over, and he had finished his speech, the superintendent presented him with a suitcase, with a scholarship to the state college for Negroes inside. If Ralph had decided not to take his grandfathers’ advice, he wouldn’t have had the opportunity to receive that scholarship. Even though Ralph was forced into fighting, he didn’t let his emotions take over him and cause him to defy the white people. So, yes Ralph’s grandfathers’ advice to his son, to advance through life with humility and submission was good.
In the early 1900s, black people were economically challenged in the United States. They were also forced to go to second-rate schools because of the racial problems that existed. On top of that, they were constantly degraded by white people and were forced to submit to them, or they would face severe consequences. In order for a black person to advance in life, they had no other choice but to go to the white people for help, because they had all of the resources. In order to receive this help, you needed to be a special Negro. You needed to stand out amongst your peers, by doing the unthinkable at times. You needed be extra nice at all times. You needed to do things you really didn’t...
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