Paper on Battle Royal

Essay by micahnay April 2004

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Battle Royal, by Ralph Ellison is about a boy that is trying to survive and get an education in a white man's world. He finds himself faced with several obstacles that he must overcome in order to deliver his speech. He knows that he has to deliver his speech in order to get into the white man's good graces so that he can attend college. This story isn't just talking about one boy and his struggles; it is about the black people in general. This can be seen throughout the story through all of the symbolism. The obstacles symbolize the white man's cruelty and violence that white man directed toward black people.

The boy's grandfather told him that he had to do what the white man wanted him to do so that he would have the chance to go to college. Before his grand father died, he told the boy to "live with your head in the lion's mouth.

I want you to overcome 'em with yeses, undermine 'em with grins, agree 'em to death and destruction, let 'em swoller you till they vomit or bust wide open." (209) He was trying to tell him to do what the whites want him to do so that he could have the chance to get ahead in a world where only whites could. During slavery and sometime afterward, when a black man wanted to get ahead, he had to be the white man's "lap dog." If he openly rebelled and tried to accomplish his life's ambitions, be would be beaten or even killed. His grandfather gave him good advice to help him excel.

About the worst thing that you could do as a black man in the time period that this story was written was to look at a white woman...