White Society v. Black Society in Ralph Ellison’s “Battle Royal” College
Ralph Ellison’s “Battle Royal,” a narrative extracted from the novel Invisible Man, portrays the story of a young African American man who has been chosen to receive a scholarship and give a speech at a gathering of the town’s white male citizens. The gathering turns out to be a cruel battle between the blacks who are invited, all for the white men’s entertainment. The story itself, however, is an allegory that represents white society versus black society, and how they both support racism.
Throughout, the power that white men held over black men is extremely prominent. In the beginning, the powerful white males stand outside of the boxing ring, representing the powerful white society. The black men inside of the ring represent black society. The men who represent white society hold power over those who represent black society. The men in the ring are taunted and teased. At one point, the white males call out for a nude white woman to approach the blacks. They are forced to watch her, and to want her, but they can never have her. The woman is described to have a “small American flag tattooed upon her belly”, which supports the idea that she represents the American dream (1213). The American dream could not be achieved by...
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