Step Into the Ring Essay

Submitted By dwages
Words: 811
Pages: 4

“Battle Royal” by Ralph Ellison provides a realistic portrait of the difficulty of being a black person in a community dominated by white men. Mr. Ellison uses several symbols in “Battle Royal” to illustrate the black struggle for equality. The story takes place in the southern United States in the 1950s when black people were starting to stand up for their rights and had a voice. The story is narrated by a young man who rises above his peers in school and is near graduation from high school. A town meeting is planned for that evening and he is scheduled to give a speech to everyone there. What occurs it not exactly what the narrator expects but he drives on and is only worried about presenting the speech. Even through all the turmoil the young black man makes it through these treacherous events and is rewarded, but must hold his tongue when trying to speak his mind. The young woman in the middle of the ring before the fight gives Mr. Ellison multiple opportunities to describe the struggle for equality during this time period. She represents how women had just as little choice as the black boys in a society run by white men. The white men threatened the black boys if they looked during the dance. From the descriptions, the woman did not want to participate in this but she had no choice. She was also viewed as less than a person in the same manner that the black boys were. This is shown by the narrator of the story through his observations of the woman’s reaction to being touched, chased, and lifted into the air by the drunken white men. The young woman’s American flag tattoo is also a representation of the freedom that the black society is trying to attain. The tattoo itself and the placement of it on the woman’s body represents the freedom the black men will have when they are equals to white men. The white blindfold the narrator wears is another symbol of “blindness” to the white man’s intentions. The black boys also misunderstand the money scattered on the rug and their intentions toward the narrator and his speech. During his speech the narrator misspeaks and a white man responds “Well, you had better speak more slowly so we can understand. We mean to do right by you, but you’ve got to know your place at all times.” The white man is trying to make it seem as if he is on the narrator’s side while still maintaining superiority, as a father would do to his child. Although the white men award the narrator with a scholarship to a Negro college, it is, without a doubt, far cheaper and inferior to any white college at the time. The white blindfold also represents the restrictions put on the blacks by white men. The blindfold makes the narrator feel dehumanized, like he has no control. The narrator does not see why the blindfold is placed on him and the whites use this to keep control over