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Battle Royal, by Ralph Ellison

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"Battle Royal" "Battle Royal," by Ralph Ellison was a very difficult piece of literature for me to understand. As a little background information, Ellison was very much into music (228). He was born in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma on March 1, 1914 (221). Different themes are presented throughout this short story, which reflect different views that Ellison had at the time that he wrote this essay. One boy is invited to speak at local men’s club where he will deliver his graduation speech. As I go on, I will discuss the nature of the short story and how it affected me. The narrator’s view of this entire situation at the men’s club is kind of humiliating which will later set the stage for events that will happen in his future. Black people are viewed different in this time period and the narrator does not understand near the end of the story. The narrator looks up to his grandfather. He told the narrator’s father to keep up the fight. The father then tells the narrator what the grandfather told him. This was just being passed down through the different generations. This to me shows the loving relationship that the grandson and the grandfather share. Near the end of the story however, his grandfather’s presence scares him to death. The grandfather’s advice was a little too much for the narrator to handle. "Live with your head in the lion’s mouth…overcome them with yeses…let ‘em swoller you till they vomit." This scares the boy. These last words that his grandfather tells him makes him feel like that there is a curse hovering over him. The family being black had a harder time growing up than the more wealthy white folks did. He wrote a graduation speech that totally went against his grandfather’s words that he gave the narrator. The town’s "leading white people" loved the speech and asked him to deliver it at a local hotel in the ballroom. This starts a "revolution" in the narrator’s life. The people at the hotel make the narrator feel very uncomfortable. This group of "town’s officials" turned out to be the local men’s club. They were smoking and drinking, paying no attention to what the guests have to say. The leaders of the club are more interested in the entertainment. At that time, they could have cared less what the narrator had to say. They had a woman ... ... middle of paper ... ... The crowd was still laughing at him and all the others that had been brutally beaten. He gave his well-written speech with some quivering in his voice. The crowd actually began to listen to him while he delivered his speech. They started to listen when he said responsible. After the speech was over, the man over the "men’s club" came up and praised him. To me, this was very ironic because why would they do that to someone and then praise him for a job well done? I am thinking that maybe they did this just to test his patience and pride. It paid off because one of the white men gave him a brief case with a document inside of it. The document was a scholarship to the State College for Negroes. The narrator was ecstatic. He then had a dream that night. He dreamed about what his grandfather had said earlier. He awoke with laughing in his ear. He had no idea what it meant at that time. This incident with the beating made him realize that he can stand up for himself and other people in turn making him a better person for society. He felt some better because he proved them wrong. Black men in that time period can make a difference and the narrator was out to prove it.
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