Essay on The Tone and Style of Ralph Ellison's Battle Royal

Essay on The Tone and Style of Ralph Ellison's Battle Royal

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A short analysis of the major theme found in Ellison’s Battle Royal, supported by a literary criticism dealing with the tone and style of the story.

Introduction:
Ralph Ellison’s short story, Battle Royal, is mainly an account of the African American struggle for equality and identity. The narrator of the story is an above average youth of the African American community [Goldstein-Shirlet, 1999]. He is given an opportunity to give a speech to some of the more prestigious white individuals. His expectations of being received in a positive and normal environment are drastically dashed when he is faced with the severity of the process he must deal with in order to accomplish his task.

Analysis:
The recurrent theme of Battle Royal is that of a struggle for one’s rights against overwhelming odds. Instances of this struggle are found throughout the story. Ellison highlights the enormity of the problems faced by the African American community to assert themselves. This is done by the extreme nature of the incidents described in the Battle Royal.

At first, the boys are taken to a room where a nude woman is dancing. When the boys turn their heads away, they are yelled at for not looking. The tone of the rebuke implies that the blacks were not entitled to most of the ‘good’ things being white could bring them and that they weren’t really good enough for them. The boys then compete in the Battle Royal. This classic example of symbolism shows the fight African Americans have been putting up against an oppressive system over time and how it was necessary to persevere and have courage even when hope diminished. The boys fiercely beat one another. This may perhaps also represent in some small part the extent to which a united comm...


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...ans in a unique manner. Through his use of the extreme tasks subjected to the blacks of his story, he manages to convey the intensity of their struggle against oppression and all its complications [Carlson, 2000]. His story deals with the topic of the fight against racism and as such is a diatribe on racism in general, no matter where it might be found. When a human being is undermined because of his race, as is the case with the characters in Battle Royal, it is a disgrace to the entire human race; Ellison’s story tells of the great necessity to fight this evil at all times and under all conditions.


Works Cited

Ellison, Ralph. The Invisible Man, 1952.

Goldstein-Shirlet, David. Review: Cultural Contexts for Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man. Eric J. Sundquist.1999

Carlson, Eric. Essay on the Invisible Man. 2000. http://www.4essays.com/essays/THE_INVI.HTM

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