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Critique of Ralph Ellison's Battle Royal

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Battle Royal by Ralph Ellison

SYMBOLISM

1) I wanted at one and the same time to run from the room, to sink through the floor...the small American flag tattooed upon her belly her thighs formed a Capital V. (Paragraph 7) The American flag symbolizes this all American notion about white women in America. She represents everything that is pure and beautiful. The woman represents the good in America.

2) Blindfolded. I could no longer control my emotions. I had no dignity. (Paragraph 16) This symbolizes how the narrator felt in the world. He was blindfolded throughout life. He felt as though he didn't have a voice and that he was living in someone else's world.

3) The harder we fought the more threatening the men became. (Paragraph 19) This symbolizes the effort Blacks made to overcome racism and to fight for equality. It became a greater struggle for them as they seemed to be more of a threat.

4) Would not this go against my speech, and was this not a moment for humility, for nonresistance? (Paragraph 23) This symbolized the lack of strength and faith he held within himself. He was constantly trying to please the white man. He didn't think of himself as an equal.

5) I even felt safe from my grandfather whose deathbed curse usually spoiled my triumphs. (Paragraph 44) This symbolized the guilt that he felt from going against his grandfathers' hopes of him becoming independent of the white man.

ALLUSION

1) In those pre-invisible days I visualized myself as a potential Booker T. Washington. (Paragraph 5)

2) A blow to my head as I dance about sent my right eye popping like a jack-in-the-

box and settled my dilemma. (Paragraph 23)

3) Her breasts were firm and round as the domes of East Indian temples, and I stood

so close as to see the fine skin texture and beads of pearly perspiration glistening like dew around the pink and erected bud of her nipples. (Paragraph 7)

IMAGERY

1) Her breasts were firm and round as the domes of East Indian temples, and I stood

so close as to see the fine skin texture and beads of pearly perspiration glistening like dew around the pink and erected bud of her nipples. (Paragraph 7)

2) I stumbled about like a baby or a drunken man. (Paragraph 16)

3) Streaks of blue light filled the black world behind the blind fold. (Paragraph 16)

4) He kept coming, bringing the rank of sharp violence of stale sweat. His face was a

black blank of a face, only his eyes alive-with hate of me and aglow with a feverish terror from what had happened to us all. (Paragraph 20)

5) And I lay there, hazily watching a dark red spot of my own blood shaping itself

into a butterfly, glistening and soaking into the soiled gray world of the canvas. (Paragraph 23)

UNIVERSAL THEME

1) "Keep this Nigger-Boy Running" (Paragraph 45) - Racism is a theme in this short

story. In the second paragraph the narrator takes the reader into hospital room where he describes a conversation that took place with his grandfather. During this conversation, he overheard his grandfather saying he was a traitor to his own race. The story starts off with a racist undertone. The narrator describes events that take place at a "Battle Royal" where the young men partake in blindfolded boxing. The men are

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