Battle Royal Symbolism

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Marisa Mans Question 6: 6.) The significance of the following symbols: the battle royal, the grandfathers dying words, the tattoo of the American flag and where it is located on the white dancer’s body, and the dream of the “engraved document” with gold lettering within the “official envelope stamped with the state seal” at the end of the story? There are many different symbols in Ralph Ellison’s “Battle Royal”. Ellison’s short story is full of symbolism of how Ellison uses many in this story to demonstrate black inequality. The battle royal is a dog-eat-dog atmosphere. Right when the narrator and his class mates step into the elevator he knows he is there for a better reason, “ I felt superior to them in my own way, and I didn‘t like the manner in which we were all crowded together into the servants‘ elevator (Ellison 353). He knows he is smarter and here for a greater reason then them, but yet he still felt intimidated by them. In the ‘Battle Royal’ when the boys were blindfolded and thrown in the rink is a direct parallel to society in general, how blacks were thrown into the world competing against each other to see who would succeed. This is demonstrated how they are all turned on each other when they have to compete “[…] everybody fought everybody else. No group fought together for long” (Ellison 354). The white people serve as a disunity between all the boys in the rink. It is up to them to fight and overcome the white dominance, not to be at constant war with each other, hoping for the same outcome. There is much intra-race conflict; the narrator as to fight Tatlock. The narrator started fighting automatically, without a solid purpose, fighting against members of his own race. He must prove himself to the ’white men’. Left in the ring is the strong versus the weak, educated against uneducated. All tat lock wants to do is rip the narrator apart, maybe
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