Battle royal

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"Son, after I'm gone I want you to keep up the good fight…Live with your head in the Lion's mouth"(174). In Battle Royal, by Ralph Ellison, the protagonist is dealt many expectations. The unnamed narrator is placed in a situation where he instantly must choose between his own dream of college and his grandfather's hope of equality. He remains unnamed throughout the story because he has no sense of self. Contrary to his grandfather's last words, he fights a battle within his own race, living up to the expectations of the white men and thus losing sight of his duty to stand up for his race as a black man.

Ironically, the boy fights a battle not with the white race, but within his own race. He physically participates in a brawl that leaves the fighters bullying members of their own breed. This battle among the black race consists not only of physical trauma, but emotional trauma as well, for the boy believes he is somehow not connected to the black race. As he waltzes into the hotel, the boy feels as if he is on a higher level than his fellow black men because he is educated, and he says of his racial equals, "I felt superior to them in my way, and I didn't like the manner in which we were all crowded together into the servants' elevator"(175). The boy undergoes a realization that he is, in fact, not a Booker T. Washington as he plans to be in life, but merely a common black man who is in disagreement with his own race. He comes to this realization after being victimized by the white men and forced into battle with men of his own ethnicity.

As a result of the ethnic battle, the boy ultimately...