The Battle Royal By Ralph Ellison Essay

1004 Words Mar 14th, 2016 null Page
Ralph Ellison uses his short story, Battle Royal to depict the racism that he had to endure as a boy growing up in Oklahoma and the way he was taught to deal with it by his grandfather, who was born a slave and endured Emancipation. The title Battle Royal, refers to how African American people are participating in a constant battle for fair treatment, equality, and their rights as human beings. Ellison uses many different symbols throughout the story to represent the psychological effect that whites had on African Americans. While at a beautifully described hotel right before the battle, a nude white woman is dancing around the room and all of the black men look at her filled with shame and reluctance (Smith 19) because they realize how extremely dangerous it is for a black person to be caught staring at a white woman in such a sexual manner. This is a fear that has been instilled in them by whites for many years. This short story paints a perfect picture of what is was like to be an African American person living in a Jim Crow society. In the beginning of the short story, the narrator receives some odd advice from his dying grandfather that really seems to confuse him. The narrator’s grandfather says, “Live with your head in the lion’s mouth. I want you to overcome em’ with yeses, undermine em’ with grins, agree em’ to death and destruction, let em’ swoller you till they vomit or bust wide open.” In other words, his grandfather is trying to get him to live, not being…

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