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The narrator in “Battle Royal”, by Ralph Ellison, is too naive and meek to challenge his place in a society ruled by whites. He is a young, black man trapped in a world blighted with social inequality with limited opportunity to advance in life just because of his race. He is torn apart by his grandfather's advice and by his desire to please members of white society. Ellison uses satire and symbolism to depict the narrators struggle for equality and identity.
The narrator is haunted by his grandfather's dying words. Speaking to the narrator's father, the narrator's grandfather expresses his guilt and shame he is burdened with for being “ a traitor” to his race. The narrator's grandfather urges his family to kill the white man with kindness and obedience. After his grandfather's death, the narrator is invited to give his graduation speech to the city's upper-class white men. His speech is contradictory to his grandfather's last words by urging the black race to advance forward in society by humility and submission to white society.
When the narrator arrives to give his speech, he is forced to participate in a fight with fellow classmates to entertain the most prominent town leaders who were “quite tipsy” and out of control. As the narrator and the other boys – all of them black – are rushed into the ballroom for the fight, he notices a naked white woman dancing in the room. Most of the boys are hesitant to look. Some passed out while other pleaded to go home. The narrator lusts for the woman and at the same time wishes she would go away; he wishes to “caress her and destroy her.”
The narrator notices an American flag tattooed on the naked woman's lower stomach. This is ironic due to the fact to the United States is almost alwa...

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...e still talking and laughing.” The crowd only pauses to criticize him when he mentions social equality. Even though the men are honoring him by allowing him to give his speech, he is reminded that they are belittling him and his race because he is being honored for obeying them rather than trying to further his race socially.
After his speech, he is awarded a briefcase. Inside was a scholarship to an all black college. He is told that one day he will guide his people down the “right” path. That night the narrator dreams that his grandfathers tells him to open his briefcase. Inside is a document that says, “ To Whom It May Concern: Keep This Nigger Boy Running.” He wakes up to the sound of his grandfather's laughter. The author uses this last line to criticize African-Americans for not recognizing the problems of social inequality and standing up for themselves.

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