"Battle Royal" The Denial of Social Equality
"Battle Royal" by Ralph Ellison is the story of a young, African American, high school graduate who withstands humiliation to give a speech amongst the towns leading white citizens at an event called a "Battle Royal." The narrator was chosen to give the speech because he had given the speech once before at his high school graduation and it was a tremendous success. During this time period the story takes place black people were not considered equal to whites and were treated in unjust ways. Several issues in the story show the denial of social inequality. Things such as the narrator and other boys fear to look at the white woman dancing, when the narrator mentioned social inequality in his speech, and the scholarship he received to the best black college in the area. These all provide support that during this era blacks were not social equal to whites and whites had no intent for them to be. When the narrator and others first entered the ball room before the battle there stood a naked white woman who put fear in the hearts of all the boys. "A sea of faces, some hostile, some amused, ringed around us, and in the center, facing us, stood a magnificent blonde-stark naked." The boys were afraid to even glimpse at the lady because she herself was a white woman and blacks did not have the privilege of even talking to white woman simply because it was not socially allowed. They were also threatened by some of the men in the room, "Some threatened us if we looked others if we did not." Struck with fear they did not look at the woman though the temptation was there. Some sneaked peeks at the lady while the white men in attendance there freely groped the woman. The boys were not allowed to look. She symbolized power, fear, and the untouchable because they were considered lower than her because she was white. Another example of the denial of social equality was in the story when the narrator was giving his speech and he made...
Cited: Ralph Ellison, "Battle Royal" from Invisible Man. Copyright 1948 by Ralph Ellison
Reprinted with the permission of Random House, Inc.
Please join StudyMode to read the full document