Symbolism and "Battle Royal" by Ralph Ellison

Topics: Black people, White people, African American Pages: 2 (562 words) Published: March 7, 2005
Ralph Ellison wrote "Invisible Man" which was his story of the black experiences in America and "Battle Royal" was derived from the opening chapter of "Invisible Man". "Battle Royal" was published as a short story in 1947 and provides the reader with a look at the struggles of black people in a white America. After giving a speech at his graduation, the narrator is invited to give the speech to many of the leading white people of the town only to discover that he was to be part of that battle royal. The "Battle Royal" provides the reader with many examples of symbolism including the battle itself, the blind folds during the battle, and the electrified coins after the battle.

The foremost symbol utilized in the story is the battle royal itself. The battle royal symbolizes the struggle for equality for the black culture. The fight is an allegory illustrating black America's efforts to overcome oppression and fear spanning from the malevolence of slavery to the persecution of segregation. Each of the black boys are instructed by white men "'to run across at the bell and give it to him right in the belly. If you don't get him, I'm going to get you'"(331). The overwhelming situation leaves the boys terrorized and with little choice but to obey.

Another example of symbolism is the blind folded boxing in the story, which symbolizes the blind hatred of blacks. By blind hatred, I mean the ignorance of the people of the time who could hate a person for the color of their skin. The boxers in the ring wailed at each other, not knowing whom they were hitting or why, just that they had to fight. The narrator declares that "blindfolded, I could no longer control my motions. I had no dignity. I stumbled about like a baby or a drunken man"(331). This was true in the white American society of the time because they didn't know the black people, they blindly sent blows of segregation without actually knowing each individual, but stereotyped a whole race as no good and as...
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