Nicole HenrillienEnglish 261Battle Royal October 5, 2018The atmosphere for this story centers around 1940 where discrimination still took place. At this time, African-Americans were still urging for equality.
Although, slavery no longer existed, African Americans were still enslaved mentally. The author Ralph Ellison wrote “Battle Royal,” in which he uses setting and characterization of the protagonist to create a vision in which readers could visualize and interpret the experiences and lives of African Americans during that time. It centers on the south, due to words expressed in their language. During this time in the south, there was still forms of racial tensions. Yes, slavery at that time was illegal, however there was still segregation occurring.
African Americans was still urging for equality in education and society. Ellison uses forms of imagery and symbolism to express the oppression that was depicted through the inhuman and equal treatment of African Americans in hopes to achieve their version of the American Dream.The author shows oppression. During this time in history African Americans were questioning their identity. “I was naive. I was looking for myself and asking everyone except myself questions which I, and only I, could answer. It took me a long time and much painful boomeranging of my expectations to achieve a realization everyone else appears to have been born with: That I am nobody but myself. But first I had to discover that I am an invisible man” (p.
549). Ellison then illustrates the various inhumane traits humans depicted onto other humans. He illustrates the imagery of animals. It shows the readers the relationships between the tortures the men endured as in relation to animals.
When the men entered the boxing ring casted as animals being cheered on by White Americans yelling for blacks to fight each other to their deaths. Their humanity was worth nothing. The woman in the ring was dancing. This represented the inhumane entertainment viewed by Whites; the torture of these men in the ring resulted in their pleasure. The men lusted over the woman in the ring while the men in the ring beat each other to death. The imagery used shows the cruelty of human nature. In addition, Ellison illustrates blindness. “I felt a wave of irrational guilt and fear.
My teeth chattered, my skin turned to goose flesh, my knees knocked. Yet I was strongly attracted and looked in spite of myself. Had the price of looking been blindness, I would have looked” (Ellison.p.552). This expresses the repressed desires of the African American spirit, in a time in which society was centered on fear and ignorance. The “Battle Royal” defines the American dream and the concept of success.
Due to the injustice of how society view African Americans, as a second to last rate option, the chances to obtain the American Dream are slim to none, the playing field compared to a White American of the same stature are unfair. The American dream suggest that anyone willing to put in the work can go from rags to riches. However; African Americans especially during that time did not have an easy road doing so. His grandfather supports this claim. He gives the protagonist his dying speech in which he states “Son, after I’m gone I want you to keep up the good fight. I never told you, but our life is a war and I have been a traitor all my born days, a spy in the enemy’s country ever since I give up my gun back in the Reconstruction. Live with your head in the lion’s mouth” (Ellison. P.
550). The protagonist is being torn in two directions. His grandfather gives him advice before he dies. However; he grows to understand what his grandfather meant in which not losing your true identity and being a traitor to you own kind by heading in the other direction of pleasing the wishes of the white society in which he longs to please.
Meaning; while attempting to satisfy their wishes, don’t forget the importance of your true identity. .