Battle Royal - Ralph Ellison Research Paper

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Battle of a Black Man Ralph Ellison made it clear that Invisible Man was not based on his own experiences. In an interview, he stated, “Let me say right now that my book is not an autobiographical work.” However, it is clear that his culture and the time period of his upbringing affected his writing. This is particularly seen in his descriptions of the treatment of blacks, the African American society, and the revelation of the narrator. Like the characters in “Battle Royal”, African Americans have to fight each other in real life because whites leave them so little (Brent 2). The white society sees itself as superior; therefore, it does not provide for African Americans. Blacks are then forced to compete within themselves in life. To …show more content…
To show this, Ellison compares African Americans to clowns. The “Battle Royal” is a perfect example of how whites use African Americans for entertainment, just like a clown. “The clowns here represent African Americans, who are forced by white society to “perform” acts of self-humiliation for the entertainment and pleasure of white people” (Brent 4). Ellison is truly disturbed by the way that blacks are treated. Further, he is even more disturbed by the fact that no one sees anything wrong with it. In an interview, Ellison says, Take the “Battle Royal” passage in my novel, where the boys are blindfolded and forced to fight each other for the amusement of the white observers. This is a vital part of behavior patterns in the South, which both Negroes and whites thoughtlessly accept. This passage states what Negroes will see I did not have to invent; the patterns were already there in society so that all I had to do was present them in a broader context of meaning. In any society there are many rituals of situations which, for the most part, go unquestioned. They can be simple or elaborate, but they are the connective tissue between the work of art and the audience. (4)
The characteristics of this southern culture are so mundane that no one even notices how awful it really is. Blacks do not even realize how they are treated and whites don’t even realize how wrong it is. However, the narrator of the story has a revelation at the end of “Battle Royal.” The