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.
“All my life I was looking for something, and everywhere that I turned someone tried to tell me what it was.” (Ellison 277) Ellison used different symbols like: stripper, the flag tattoo on the stripper’s belly, the blindfold, and the battle itself to illustrate the black men struggles for equality. The use of symbolization by Ellison portrays a need of a black men from the society. In Battle Royal, the stripper, a blonde women, symbolizes in the struggle for equality. Her presence in the story outlines how little choice both women and black people have in a world dominated by white males. The black men are told to watch the stripper as well as not to look her.
He then says,” I wanted at one and the same time to run from the room… to go to her and cover her from my eyes… the caress and destroy her… to love her and to murder her…”, this speaks greatly to how the protagonist is torn, because he sees that America is both beautiful and flawed and as much as he would love to destroy it, because of all the pain it has caused, he also desires to have
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
Men look down on women and treat them as if they are inferior. In the poem a mother wishes pain and humiliation on her sons or generally speaking men on the whole. Wishing them menstrual cramps so that they understand what women goes through, because she feels underappreciated as a woman. Even though men are considered the superior beings in society she wants men to come to the realization that women are equal to men, since women go through just as much as they go through of even more. Oppression is not only in mothers but also in house wives.
As the white woman dances in front of the black boys participating in the battle royal (as a result, participating in their public dehumanization), the narrator has a desire for her; however, at the same time wants “to caress and destroy her” (Ellison 249). The white woman symbolizes a forbidden freedom essentially “stripping” the narrator of his decency and innocence. The tattoo on her body is an ironic gesture inserted by Ellison. Ironically, America is presumed to be the place where all men are created equal”; however, the white woman is placed within an environment that refuses to accept equality. Therefore, as the white men taunt the black boys with the white woman, they in turn taunt them with their freedom.
Racism was a major problem during this time, and Ellison had a lot of circumstances he could use for the story. In this passage he shows how the MC’s and people there made the African Americans look like fools and were entertained at their expense. They wanted the African Americans to fight in the ring and then they would promise them that they would get money in the end. Ellison writes about how they throw money and coins at their feet, only for the coins to be brass and not real coins. On page 233, Ellison writes this by saying “I crawled rapidly around the floor, picking up the coins, trying to avoid the coppers and to get greenbacks and the gold.” The money they were throwing out to them wasn’t even real money.
The hyper-sexuality of Black women in slavery comes as no surprise. It was used as a tactic to justify the sexual practices between slave and master. To Whites, the Black woman had a sexual appetite that could not be fulfilled by Black men. Therefore, it was the White man’s job to satisfy her. They used this excuse to justify the rape and seduction of slave women.
From reading this story, I sensed a major theme of representing one’s self as an individual opposed to giving into what society wants you to do. This idea is obvious in the personality of the narrator along with the stripper who attends the battle royal. She is too a victim of lacking an identity to voice her own opinion. Ellison’s in-depth descriptions of his characters make this story a really genuine source of understanding one minority’s struggles through a time of discrimination and failure to establish identity. Ralph Ellison's nameless protagonist in "Battle Royal" is a young African American struggling to find his place in society in the early twentieth century American South.
Racial Glaze Have you ever been humiliated for the entrainment of others? In Ralph Ellison’s “Battle Royal,” a young black man is forced to strip off his clothes and fight blindfolded with his peers in front of the white southern town leaders. After the fight and embarrassment had ended, he was then told you stand up, bloodied and disoriented, and recite his graduation speech. The vague southern setting of Ralph Ellison’s “Battle Royal” supports the central idea that sometimes in a society dominated by racism, personal accomplishments and individuality are disregarded. In “Battle Royal,” Ellison gives an obscure description of the time and place in which the story is set.