The Importance of “Battle Royal” in American Literature
Ralph Ellison’s “Battle Royal” is a short story that is widely studied in American literature courses. It first appeared in Ellison’s 1952 collection, Invisible Man, and it is often considered to be one of the most important stories in that book. The story is about a black man who is anonymous and lives in the deep south during the Jim Crow era. The story focuses on the idea of racism and how it affects the black man’s life. The story has been criticized for its violence and for its lack of resolution, but it has also been praised for its powerful depiction of racism in America.
2. Ellison’s Hidden Meaning in “Battle Royal”:
Critics have argued that Ellison’s hidden meaning in “Battle Royal” is to show how white society uses violence and racism to control black people. Ellison uses irony and symbolism to make his point about how blacks are treated in American society. The story begins with the narrator describing how he was invited to give a speech at a “battle royal.” The battle royal is a fight between black men that is organized by white people for their own amusement. The black men are forced to wear blindfolds and are not allowed to fight back. The narrator describes how he was picked as the winner of the fight, but he does not feel like a winner because he was beaten up and humiliated in front of everyone.
The narrator then goes on to describe how he was given a scholarship to an all-black college. He is excited about this opportunity, but he quickly realizes that the college is just another way for white society to control black people. The college is run by white people, and the curriculum is designed to keep black people from getting ahead in life. After graduation, the narrator gets a job working for a white man who mistreats him and makes him do all the work while he gets all the credit.
The narrator eventually realizes that he has been tricked by white society and that he will never be able to achieve anything unless he makes a stand against racism. He decides to become invisible so that he can fight back against injustice without getting caught. The story ends with the narrator giving his famous Invisible Man speech, which calls for an end to racism and oppression.
3. A Marxist Criticism of “Battle Royal”:
A Marxist criticism of “Battle Royal” would focus on the way that Ellison uses the story to illustrate how capitalism benefits from racial oppression. Marxists would argue that white society benefits from keeping blacks oppressed because it provides them with cheap labor. They would also argue that Ellison’s use of irony and symbolism shows how whites use violence and deception to control blacks.
4. “Battle Royal” as a Rhetorical Piece:
“Battle Royal” can also be seen as a rhetorical piece that uses emotional appeals to make its point about racism. Ellison uses vivid descriptions of violence and humiliation to show how blacks are treated in American society. He also uses irony and symbolism to contrast the treatment of blacks with the way that whites claim to view them. By using these devices, Ellison is able to make a strong emotional appeal that speaks directly to the experiences of black Americans.
5. The Importance of “Battle Royal”:
“Battle Royal” is an important story because it gives a voice to the experiences of black Americans. Ellison uses the story to illustrate how racism affects every aspect of black life. He also uses the story to call for an end to racism and oppression. “Battle Royal” is important because it is one of the first stories to give a full and honest account of what it was like to be black in America.
“Battle Royal” is a powerful story that gives a voice to the experiences of black Americans. Ellison uses irony, symbolism, and emotional appeals to make his point about how racism affects every aspect of black life. “Battle Royal” is important because it is one of the first stories to give a full and honest account of what it was like to be black in America.