Battle Royal

Topics: Short story, Racism, Discrimination Pages: 5 (1222 words) Published: January 6, 2015
Compare and Contrast Essay
Christina M. Nelson
21 July 2014
Battle Royal is a short story that speaks about discrimination, immorality, and prejudice due to the color of an individual’s skin. While lying on his deathbed, the Grandfather tells his son to teach the younger generation of children how to behave in a socially acceptable manner; a manner that could be considered respectable in accordance with the white man’s way of life, this he declared with his last dying breathe. (Ellison, 1947). While reading this passage, I could literally visualize these events unfolding, and the overwhelming reaction of everyone that was present to witness this event.

The Birthmark story takes place in a time where some individuals thought that spells and magic existed, and that alchemy was a sure way to cure any illness or imperfections of the body. In this time, even the most prestigious scientist thought that people’s illnesses could be cured by merely creating a concoction with the components of Mother Nature and with a little assistance from the spiritual world. Birthmark also centers around a hand shaped birthmark, on the cheek of a newly wedded woman, and the extent; she would go through to ensure her husband’s happiness. Some people saw this birthmark as a charm, while some were disgusted by it, like her husband. "Georgiana," said he, "has it never occurred to you that the mark upon your cheek might be removed?"(Hawthorne, 1843). Her husband in his obsession, being this magnificent scientist believed that he could remove the mark, but the deeper he dug, the more he emotionally hurt her. These two short stories speak about inequality, social discrimination and to what extent people are willing to please the one’s they adore.

In the period that Battle Royal took place, societies overall outlook of African Americans was that each class should stay in their prospective places. Regardless of how educated an individual was or the position they held in society, it was normal for people to behave in a manner suitable to their class. This affected the main character drastically, it remind him of his Grandfather which made him feel anxious and guilty. Birthmark took place in the late century in England, during this era; it seems to have revolved around science and appearances.

Aylmer adores his wife, but harbors feelings of shame due to his wife’s imperfection, as a skilled scientist he feels; he can rid her of this imperfection. Georgiana has never allowed this small flaw she possesses to govern her life. However, she realizes how uncomfortable it makes her husband, by his reaction whenever they are together.

The young man in the short story Battle Royal recognizes himself as a person of desirable conduct, sophisticated and trustworthy. The Grandfather believed that he had betrayed his race due to the actions he had taken throughout his life. We never learned his name, because throughout his life he has always sought other people approval, constantly needing someone to validate himself. We see evidence of this when the Grandfather whispered to the father, “I want you to overcome 'em with yeses, undermine 'em with grins, agree 'em to death and destruction, let 'em swoller you until they vomit or bust wide open.” (Ellison, 1947, p.180).

Aylmer is a man of science that loves his wife, however, he finds her imperfection disgusting. He is perceived to be a man that only cares about, outer appearances and what others may think. Georgiana adores her husband and will do anything to satisfy him. When he is unhappy, then she is sad as well. Aminadab, Aylmer’s manservant, an individual that does not seem to be elated about the actions that his master is taking against his wife. Instead he sees Georgiana as a treasure and thee birthmark is something that makes her even more lovely, which is evident by the statement “If she (Georgiana) were my wife, I’d never part with that birthmark.”( Hawthorne, 1843, p. 308).

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