Battle Royal, by Ralph Ellison

855 Words2 Pages

If I had to pick one out of the many stories that we have read and say that it moved me the most, I would have to say that the story would have to be “Battle Royal”. The reason that the story did move me so was because of the author’s keen use of symbolism, the author portrays a larger meaning than what is initially implied to the reader who does not thoroughly analyze the text.
Initially, the story seems to be about one black boy’s struggle to get ahead in a predominately white society. He tries to accomplish this goal by adhering to his grandfather’s dying words. His grandfather told him to “live with your head in the lion’s mouth. I want you to overcome ‘em with yeses, undermine ‘em with grins, agree ‘em to death and destruction, let ‘em swoller you till they vomit or bust wide open”. In other words, his grandfather was telling him to conform to the white peoples way of life in order to get ahead. I believe that the story had a deeper meaning than the aforementioned one.
I believe that if the reader were to take a deeper look into all of the symbolism in the story, one would find that the summation of all the symbolism is equal to not only the struggle of this black boy, but the struggle of blacks at the time in which the story takes place. I think that if one were to analyze the grandfathers dying words, one would find the view of most conformist black Americans. The only way for a black person to excel at that time was to conform to the white society. Any rebels that tried to stand up for their rights were most likely killed by anti-black groups, such as the KKK.
There was one symbol in the story that stood out especially in my mind and that was the stripper. She was a tall blonde-haired woman with a tattoo of the American flag on her stomach. I think the stripper symbolized the perfect American white woman, something a black man can strive for all his life to obtain, but would never receive. This was a symbol of the many things that a white man could have whereas a black man could not.
The blind folded boxing in the story, I believe, was a representation of the blind hatred of the blacks at the time the story took place.

Open Document