Interpretations of Battle Royal
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Interpretations of “Battle Royal”
The short story, “Battle Royal”, by Ralph Ellison, is about a young boy experiencing the harshness of growing up. The author does a wonderful job of portraying the boy so that the reader actually feels like he or she knows the character. The author develops the main character through the boy’s thoughts, through the way he sees himself, and through the way he acts towards the situations he faces during the story.
The author has a very unique approach of introducing the reader to the main character. He leaves a lot to your imagination, for instance, the main character’s age is never given in the story. We know that he has just graduated from high school, and can assume that he is probably about eighteen, but that is never stated. Another aspect we must assume is the color of the boy’s skin. We can tell that the boy is black by the way he talks and because the scholarship he receives is to a black college. That is another hardship that the boy has to deal with. At that age, a sense of belonging is very important, and this young boy is not allowed to go to the same school, or even enter the same door at the hotel as the white people. Another factor that is very interesting is that the character’s name is never mentioned. I believe that the author did that on purpose because, in a sense, the boy is still trying to find himself. The boy even refers to himself as being “invisible.” A!
fter all, he has just finished high school and, at that age, most people are trying to figure out who they are, what their beliefs are, and where their place is in society. Knowing the boy’s age, the color of his skin, and that the boy is in a period of searching for himself are very important factors to know in order to understand and empathize with the character for the events he has to go through in the story.
The story begins with a childhood memory of the main character. The boy recalls an important childhood experience, the death of his grandfather. This was a very memorable event for the boy because his grandfather was very important to him. In fact, he even says that people say he takes after his grandfather. This, in itself, tells us something about the character. The boy describes the grandfather as “an odd old guy”. I think that the boy sees himself in that way also. After all, he is a young black boy growing up in a prejudice world. He also describes his grandfather as “the meekest of men.” The boy describes being meek as a good quality, but also a bad one. It is a good quality because being meek makes you well liked, and is just a good quality to have. However, meek people are also, very often, taken advantage of. I think the grandfather saw being meek as a sign of weakness which is what the grandfather says on his death bed. He wants his family to stand up for!
themselves, and not let people take advantage of them. This factor is also important to know in understanding the events that follow.
Although, he is only eighteen, I think that the boy seems very grown up because of the way he acts towards situations. The best example of that is when the boy is in the boxing ring at the hotel. I mean, I don’t know about you, but if anyone had done to me what that did to that little boy, I would probably get mad, cry, and walk out, or cry, but this little boy just takes it. He was brought to a place where he thought he was going to make his speech. Instead, he is told that he was brought there to box with other boys. Then, when they take him out into the room, he finds out that the only reason that he, along with other boys, were actually brought there only to be laughed at. What a terrible thing to do to young boys! They are just young, naive boys that don’t even know exactly how the world
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Boy, Childhood, Men, The Rich Boy
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