Battle Royal By Ralph Ellison Essay

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The early 20th century southern United States was not a particularly good time for the African American community. Despite the freedom gained after the Civil War, black society was still in the grip of “Jim Crow.” African Americans faced racial segregation, restricted civil rights and liberties. In “Battle Royal,” Ralph Ellison portrays the struggles of African Americans in the 1920’s through the inhuman physical, emotional, sexual and persecuting treatment of the protagonist. Throughout “Battle Royal,” one can see the physical oppression that the African American protagonist and black society was put through. The ballroom battle royal fight scene mirrors this perfectly. “Blindfolded, I could no longer control my motions. I had no dignity.…show more content…
The underlining symbol was the battle royal itself. “No group fought together for long. Two, three, four fought one, then turned to fight each other, were themselves attacked” (247). It was a scheme to get the African Americans to fight each other, instead of uniting and facing their persecutors. African American’s continued to struggle for many things that only were afforded to the white race. This led to the persecution of African Americans and accommodations that were usually inferior to those provided for white Americans, systematizing a number of economic, educational and social disadvantages. The protagonist finally gets to deliver his speech. The speech was the catalyst throughout the story. "I spoke automatically and with such fervor that I did not realize that the men were still talking and laughing until my dry mouth filling up with blood from the cut almost strangled me” (251). He raises his voice louder despite the pain, making sure his speech is heard. When the protagonist was done giving his speech the superintendent came up and handed him a calfskin briefcase. “My fingers a-tremble, I complied, smelling the fresh leather and finding an official-looking document inside. It was a scholarship to the state college for Negroes. My eyes filled with tears and I ran awkwardly off the floor” (253). The protagonist was told that one day he will lead his people down the
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