In the story Battle Royal, the author Ralph Ellison depicts vividly the situation in American for African Americans as they struggled to find a place in the American society. The protagonist, a black African American youth just about to graduate from high school struggles to fit into the society and faces racial discrimination. This discussion will look at the struggle of African Americans with the issue of racism. The young black man is invited to give a speech at an exclusive white men’s club because he was good speaker. The setting symbolizes the white man’s environment that is new to the black man.
The white man is willing to let the black man in to his space but not to benefit the black man but to humiliate him. The ring in which game of battle royal takes place denotes the space that the black man is enclosed in and thus faces isolation from the society. The white man also shows that help will only be offered to the blacks that know their place.
For example, the narrator goes to an African American college so that he can remain in his place and continue in isolation after he gets a scholarship at the club. The American society discriminates against the African Americans due to racism. The main character envisions an inclusive society. In his speech, he dwells on humility and urges that humility is the only way the society can develop. However, the atmosphere he finds in the club is anything but peaceful. Racism still rears its head and the blacks are asked to participate in a battle royal before he delivers his speech.
Together with other nine blacks, are blindfolded and asked to fight each other in a ring. The battle had no order and everyone fought each other blindly. Likewise, racism has blindfolded the blacks and instead of keeping together, they fight against one another when they should unite and fight against the oppression of the white man. The fight symbolizes the methods that the white men used in order to control and suppress the blacks. Blindfolding the young men depicts the inability of the African Americans to see in the society due to racism. They do not see the reality of the situation just as the protagonist had no idea of the real behavior of the white men who he always thought were respectful until he saw their brutality in the club.
The white men humiliate the young black men by arousing them sexually through a naked white woman and if they did not look and frowned upon for not looking. Yet many black men had faced imprisonment on allegations of raping white women. This activity depicts the place of a black man in this society. He is a servant who is required to do what the white man asks of him.
On the other hand, the black man is used as a source of white man’s entertainment as we see the white men laughing at the The two black men left standing in the ring face further humiliation and have to jump on an electrified rag to get the coins and bills for their payment. The narrator asks the other man to fake as if he had been knocked out so that the fight could end but he refuses. The fighter shows that some black men have resigned to their fate and will do anything the white man asks if it helps them to get ahead in the society. The protagonist later gets a chance to give his speech and as he does so he keeps swallowing blood as he was bleeding from the fight, which is humiliating. The crowd does not pay attention to his speech except when he mentions equality because they want the blacks to remain under oppression. Finally, the speech delivered by the narrator shows the harsh treatment that the African Americans endure from the whites. He knows that there is no equality and from the harsh reaction to his speech, it shows that attaining equality is a tall order for the African Americans.
He makes a decision to speak about racial situation because he is not willing to continue living under the rules of the white man to be successful. Racism is a reality that African Americans have to go through as they try to find their identity in a society that does not recognize them. They have to make a decision to fight and be free and play by their own rules in the society.