Literary Analysis Essay on Battle Royal by Ralph Ellison

Published: 2021-08-16
642 words
3 pages
6 min to read
George Washington University
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Battle royal is the first chapter of Ralph Ellison's book invisible man. The story is very symbolic in the life of the African American as they fought for freedom. It symbolizes their oppression, demeanor, and disunity caused by the white man. The endless struggle of the black community in achieving their independence. The story has numerous vital areas each having its representational nature in the lives of the blacks. The fight to freedom was not an easy path as the narrator reveals to us. The white had infected the black man with fear and that forced them to obey their commands.

The Stripper

There is a blonde stripper that signifies a lot. The stripper gets described as having yellow hair with an American flag on her belly. The fact that she is a blonde is a representation of the famous and most sought out people in the society primarily by the large corporation like movie franchises. One can conclude vaguely on her likeness to people like Marilyn Monroe. The teenage black boys got forced to look at the stripper. However, they knew it was a taboo not to lust or be with a white woman. The sexual conscious of the boys got limited to where the white man wanted (Phillips, Elizabeth C, and Laurie Rozakis 19). The flag also represented the untouchable body that kept the black man in place. According to the writer, the narrator describes that prominent people like politicians, society leader, and even school leaders attended the battle royal. All these men in their perverted ways enjoyed the show.

The Fight

As the narrator enlightens us, the blacks got dressed in boxing gloves and forced to fight amongst themselves. Any man not obeying the rules got threatened. The fight manipulated by the white is very symbolic. The southern white man uses the boxing to further the disunity among the blacks. Unknowing to what their oppressors are doing the African Americans fight with each other. As they do so, they continue to create disunity amongst themselves. Without unity, the freedom fighters stand no chance of winning the fight.

The Battle Royal and the Money

After delivering a speech at his graduation, the narrator gets an invite to make a statement among the prominent people in the society in the battle royal. Contrary to his dismay, he had no idea he will be participating in the fight. During the match, the narrator tried to make a bribe to one of the boxers, but instead, the fighter replied in fists. It goes a long way to show how the dark race members got scared to disobey the white man's orders.

After the fight, the boys got the opportunity to take money off a rug. The downside was that the coins were of brass and the rug had an electric current running through it. Each time someone tried to pick the coins, the got electrocuted (Robert). After struggling to pick the coins, the boys discovered that the coins were not real (Robert). The story is an interpretation of the black community economic struggle. For an African American to make significant money, they had to toil and work under the harsh terms of the white man. The white man was always there to diminish the success of the black man. As the fake coins signify that even after they endured all the hardship, it did not change their livelihood; they were no step further than where they were before. When the narrator finally managed to survive the difficulties, they gave him a brick case and a diploma and allowed him to make his speech. It just shows how much the whites were in control of the black man.

Works cited

Phillips, Elizabeth C, and Laurie Rozakis. Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man. New York, Barnes & Noble, 1998,.Robert. "Is This The Most Degrading Scene In Literature?." 101 Books, 2012,

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