Battle Royal. Ralph Ellison

I felt like he had never experienced racism to the extent that he did that day. I believe that he walked into the “smoker” believing the white people were actually interested in what he had to say. He was even prideful thinking that he was better than the other boys he was forced into the elevator with “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” (pg. 287). The author writes about them being packed into this elevator designated for “servants. I pictured animals set for slaughter, which was not far from what the battle was, packed into a cart terrified and bewildered. Perhaps the young man believed that times had changed from when his grandfather was alive. Like the average teenager he may have believed that no one can understand the culture and the time quite like they can. He may have thought that his grandfather’s perspective was that of a bitter old man and that white people really did care about him and the rest of his people. The grandfather’s deathbed words affect the protagonist character throughout the story like the haunting of a ghost.

His words tell the young man to act how the white people would like and say what they would have him say. At first I thought he was telling his grandson to stay the same and accept oppression as a way of life. In actuality I think he was telling him that he would get further acting correctly then he would by lashing out or acting irrationally. I think the grandpa knew that in order to gain respect you must act like they expected instead of becoming a radical for change. I think that essentially he was trying to tell his family to “kill them with kindness. Many symbols were present in this story. The naked blonde woman who was forced to dance in front of the men is the first. I believe that, much like the men, the blonde was a victim. The author even says that when they picked her up and tossed her around she had “terror and disgust in her eyes. ” (pg. 288) To the black men she symbolized something that they were not allowed to have. I thought that although she was white she was still a victim to the powerful men of the town. She was forced into the ring the same way that the black men were.

It seemed as if the author wanted to illustrate the complete disregard these white “powerful” men had for any one else. The American flag tattoo on the woman’s belly was ironic. I think that the flag, to many people, symbolizes freedom and rights. People around the world associate the American flag with freedoms unlike those in any other country. I think that on the stomach of the blonde woman it was a slap in the face. The black men saw the flag on her body and knew that they could not have her, nor could they have the freedoms that they were entitled to as citizens of this country.