Racism in Battle Royal by Ralph Ellison Essay

1103 Words 5 Pages
Everyday, racism is perceived as one of the most negative aspects of society. When people think of racism, they obviously see hatred, evil , and ignorance. It has been a part of world culture since recorded history and , no doubt , before that. When one thinks of racism in the United States, invariably , though not only , the struggle of the African-American is singled out. That is the main issue Ellison so powerfully addresses in his short story "Battle Royal". In it the author allows us to see the world through the eyes of a young black boy who is struggling to succeed in a predominantly white society. The thing that is absolutely essential to our understanding of the story is the understanding of this "rich" character. In this …show more content…
Therefore he cannot seek a satisfying role in life because he is relegated to the position which white society determines is appropriate. The second aspect of his invisibility is his inability to see himself as an individual. He has been authored by society for so long that he is unable to determine his own identity. During the story the boy has functioned as he believes others (whites , his family ) expect him to. Individuality has been subverted by expectations and the narrator is invisible to himself.

One of the main characteristic traits of the "invisible boy" seems to be blindness. He is failing to see reality in one way or another . In the story he is invited to repeat his valedictory speech in which he said that " humility was the secret , indeed , the very essence of progress" (449) before the white leaders of the town. These men, however, humiliate the protagonist and some other black youths by forcing them to engage in a "battle royal," a blindfolded fist fight in which the last standing participant is victorious and tempting them to fight for counterfeit coins tossed on an electrified rug. Even after being degraded, beaten up, used, and treated like an animal the narrator still wants to impress his abusers and he delivers his oration. During the speech the men ridicule him and only make it more painful to go through with it in the already disturbing circumstances. But he doesn't care . Blinded by

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