Inner Vs. Outer Strength

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The idea that inner strength is just as beneficial as physical strength is not often thought about; nonetheless, it is an ever-present issue. In the short story “Battle Royal,” the narrator is an African American male who expects nothing more than to present a speech at a meeting of white people, but is unpleasantly surprised when he is at the meeting. In the short story “The Lesson,” the narrator is an obstinate young child who does not want to admit Miss Moore, a young lady trying to inform Sylvia and her friends of their situation, is actually correct. Battle Royal is an excellent example of a situation when inner strength is just as important as physical strength, if not more so. In “Battle Royal,” the narrator is a black male who is going to give a “speech at a gathering of the town’s leading white citizens” (Battle Royal), and expects nothing more than to arrive at said meeting, give his speech, and leave. However, the “leading white citizens” (Battle Royal) have different plans for the narrator and the other blacks that are in attendance at the meeting. The whites’ plans are brutal, inhumane, and, above all, unnecessary. These plans consist of forcing the blacks to watch a woman dance sensuously, participate in a “Battle Royal,” and grab metal coins lying on an electrified carpet. Each one of these things could dissuade the narrator’s giving his speech at the gathering, but his inner strength and desire to obey his father allows him to brush off these happenings and carry on with his personal mission. Near the beginning of each of these cruelties, the narrator expresses nervousness, but after a short amount of time exposed to the activity, he is better able to control his feelings. In the first “test,” he has a nat... ... middle of paper ... ...of the group. Miss Moore feels that if she can get through to Sylvia, then all the other children will begin to catch on to the lessons. Throughout the work, Miss Moore maintains her frame of mind that the children do not, in fact, know how disadvantaged they truly are. However, Sylvia, being the stubborn young child that she is, does not feel that she is at a disadvantage until near the end of the short story, where she says “ain’t nobody gonna beat me at nuthin,” (The Lesson). This, in itself, is an exemplary exhibition of determination. Works Cited Bambara, Toni C. "The Lesson." Making Literature Matter: An Anthology for Readers and Writers. 5th ed. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin's, 2012. 1142-147. Print. Ellison, Ralph. "Battle Royal." Making Literature Matter: An Anthology for Readers and Writers. 5th ed. Boston: Bedford/ST. Martin's, 2012. 1494-505. Print.
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