Battle Royal, by Ralph Ellison

780 Words4 Pages
Battle royal is a story reflecting the post civil war era. With so many privileges and opportunities for Blacks, the future seemed promising but the "Black Codes" limited all of the so called opportunities presented to blacks. It was worst enough to have these "Black Codes" implemented in the southern states, but there were also groups such as the Ku Klux Klan, which enforced the "Black Codes" and were bent on oppressing the blacks. The story seems to be set in the late 1800's. This was a time when blacks wanted to be treated equally but were too scared to speak out because their family's welfare might be at risk if they did. In the short story Battle royal, tells his family his way to social equality. While the grandson does things a little differently. In the story "Battle Royal" the narrator's grandfather tells the family to undermind the whites with "yeses" and "grins", he also instructs them to "agree'em to death and destruction". The grandfather felt that in order to keep the family safe and also hold on to the oppression that scars them everyday, they should put on a mask. This will keep the white man pleased and the blacks could keep there self respect because as soon as the opportunity for social equality comes they'll go for it. This didn't seem like a bad idea but it was hard for the narrator to comprehend. Later the narrator is an educated young man in his teens. He's followed his grandfathers' words and it results in him being obedient to the views of the white men. The narrator is invited to recite a speech at a local town gathering which included politicians and town leaders. The narrator is forced to compete in a battle royal. He had to box blindfolded, get electrified by a rug filled with fake brass coins, and humiliated when it was time for him to give his speech. The problem with the boys understanding of the grandfather's ideology is that he doesn't know where his limit is. It almost seems as if he would go through anything the white men put in his way but even after that, the men tell him to correct himself when he even mentions social equality. The narrator is rewarded for his obedience with a scholarship, but the true value of the scholarship is questioned in a dream where the scholarship paper read, "To Whom It May Concern…Keep This Nigger-Boy Running.

More about Battle Royal, by Ralph Ellison

Open Document