Battle Royal By Ellison

The narrator of "Battle Royal," lived his life under the illusion that
everybody had an equal chance in life. He desperately wanted and tried to please
everyone, thinking that if he did he would eventually rise and become somebody
great. He was a great speaker and his speeches won him great recognition, but he
did not realize that nobody took him seriously. He was trapped in a body of
inferior qualities and would never amount to anything. The setting of "Battle

Royal," was recently after slavery had been abolished. A time where blacks
were free, but looked upon and treated with less than equality. The narrator was
praised by the whitest of white men in the town, and looked upon as an example
of desirable conduct. What he did not understand was that they did not think any
more of him than any other black man, he was just another nigger to them. The
magnificent blonde that paraded around the middle of the boxing ring was more
than just amusement. This was everything that these black men wanted, but would
never have. She represented the American dream of power, wealth, and fame. The
narrator knew he could never have her, but he looked anyway. "Had the price of
looking been blindness, I would have looked." Pg198. The author had devoted
his life to pleasing the white men, so he could speak, to be somebody, but he
would never amount to anything. He was their toy. The "Battle Royal," itself
was a thorough example of the power that the white man had over the blacks. All
ten of the boys were made to go through acts of humiliation before and after
they had fought and made to wear blindfolds during the actual fight. The boys
were degraded and humiliated throughout the whole event and didn’t once think
that they were being mistreated. They were scared of the white men and what
might happen if they did not cooperate. The boys had been brought in to fight
for the men and be nothing more than an amusement. After the fight was over the
boys were led to an electrified rug, covered in piles of money, which they were
told was to be their reward. There appeared to be quite a sum of coins, crumpled
bills, and gold pieces, which turned out to be next to nothing considering the
gold pieces were actually brass advertising tokens. The boys had been misled,
lied to, and physically abused, but never spoke out against the white men once.

The white men knew the could do whatever they wanted and they did. A few days
after the fight the narrator had a dream that he and his grandfather were at the
circus. "...I dreamed that I was at the circus and that he refused to laugh at
the clowns no matter what they did." Pg. 205. This dream was an image of what
had happened that night at the "Battle Royal." He was one of the white men
sitting in the crowd looking at what had been him and the other boys which were
represented by the clowns. His grandfather was trying to show him what he had
really looked like that night in the ring. Then he opened his briefcase to read
what was inside. He opened the envelope stamped with the state seal only to
endlessly find envelope after envelope. His grandfather explained to him that
these envelops represented years of his life. Finally the last envelope
contained a letter which read, "To Whom It May Concern, Keep This Nigger Boy

Running." Pg. 205. This letter represented what the white man wanted for him.

They wanted him to become educated and to eventually lead his people. They
figured that they could keep him busy leading his people in circles. To keep
them ever chasing their dreams to which they would never catch up with. The
narrator had lived his whole life chasing his dreams and continually ignoring
the reality of his situation. He thought the white men were helping him to
achieve his goals and eventually he would get to where he wanted to be. What he
did not realize was that he was doing everything the white man wanted him to.

They did not take him seriously and they never would.