Literary Analysis Essay on Battle Royal, the First Chapter of Ralph Ellison's Novel Invisible Man

Published: 2021-06-23
921 words
4 pages
8 min to read
University of Richmond
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Battle Royal by Ellison gets noted as a story which consists of a framework in which the narrator keeps in mind the words of his grandfather to his father before his demise. He remembers most of the information getting based on cruelty and symbolism of struggles that the Native Americans encountered and the loss of American values. Therefore, the paper gets based on an essay which explores the symbolism of the struggles that the Native Americans went through at the time and the loss of American values.

The underlying reason for the struggle of Native Americans mainly got noted on their quest for equality because they were subjected to hardship situations among other unfavorable circumstances. A good example that informs the symbolism of the struggle gets noticed on how Ellison mirrors the narrator. He presents the narrator as one of the brightest youths among the Native Americans and is thereby offered an opportunity of speech presentation. He then gets subjected to very brutal treatment to ensure that he performs his task. The mentioned symbolizes that they were expected to participate in certain activities based on unfavorable conditions. The treatment also images the kind of struggle that many Native Americans endured to restore similar status to those of the White Americans (Rankine and Patrice, 2).

The next struggle to achieve equality for the Native Americans gets pointed out in the harsh condition presented by Ellison where two boys are brought under an order to compete in the royal battle. First, they bring the boys in a place where a nude woman is dancing. The white men then yell at the boys for not fighting each other, a situation that triggers a serious fight between them. It gets argued that the aspect also contributes in imaging Ellison's symbolism for the struggle between the Native Americans themselves just to acquire similar status as their colleagues. Again it is the scenario where the story also gets its title the "Battle Royal." The aspect can also get compared with the incidences which unfolded immediately after the abolition of slave trade. Many Native Americans caught themselves into fights and rage not knowing why just like the boys blindly fought each other. Ellison uses all these to image the fight for equality through a different dimension (Thomas, 3). At that time also, the United States of America had lost its values. It did not believe in the freedom of equality (Rankine and Patrice, 5). It did not also recognize the American dream which ensures that every human being living within the territories of the United States despite his race, background or even religion can achieve personal growth and developments.

The Native American's fought against nearly everything; they fought against segregation of schools, hospitals, and even restaurants. Ellison depicts another struggle for the Native Americans through the depiction of the electrified rug where the boys get given the chance of taking bills and coins off of a rug (Rankine and Patrice, 6). The boys decide to grab the money in the rug and in so doing; they end up receiving jolts of electricity. The situation makes it hard for them to reach for the money and ends up in long struggle coupled with much pain and suffering (Thomas, 7). Just like the wrestling representation, the scenario also depicts how the Native American's struggled just to achieve similar status to the White Americans.

Later in the struggle when they were allowed to attend same schools with the White Americans' still the issue of segregation was noted to exist. They encountered misjudgments and racial prejudices which they had to endure while with the White Americans. The two boys brought to battle got promised a better deal of acquiring money, but they had to withstand the conditions of pain and electrification to get the deal. Native Americans fought for what they believed in, the aspect of equality and the restoration of the American values but had to endure similar circumstances in their quest.

The final issue that also gets presented by Ellison is that of the envelope where the narrator dreams of his grandfather making him open envelopes after envelopes. He finally reaches one which is written, "To Whom It May Concern," then he gets directed to keep it by the grandfather. Many critics argue the aspect of the envelop images the issues which the Native Americans had to deal and cope up with as they seek to get equal treatment (Thomas, 11). Everything that the whites gave them got coupled with prices in the form hardship attached to them.


In summary, the paper succeeds in imaging the incidences which occur throughout the Battle Royal by Ellison as those which mirrors Native Americans to undergo various struggles and the loss of the American values. Native Americans got subjected to different hard conditions, and anything given to them got accompanied with a price as mirrored in the paper. The underlying justification for the depicted gets noted where the two boys are made to wrestle and then made to struggle for the money. In the course, of their fight, the receive jolts of electricity from where the rug was lying. The mentioned, therefore, succeeds in imaging Ellison's work as that which used various symbols to demonstrate the struggles of the natives in their quest for equality at a time when the American values were no more.

Works Cited

Rankine, Patrice D. Ulysses in Black: Ralph Ellison, Classicism, and African American Literature. Madison, Wis: University of Wisconsin Press, 2008. Print.

Thomas, P L. Reading, Learning, Teaching Ralph Ellison. New York: Peter Lang, 2008. Print.

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