There are many symbols in Ralph Ellison’s story “Battle Royal.”Ellison’s story is full of excellent symbolism of how African-Americans have struggled throughout history to fight for their equality. The narrator starts off the story by describing his grandfather’s dying last words.In his last words, the grandfather expresses his wishes for future generations to continue the struggle for black equality.Ellison uses many symbols in this story to demonstrate the lack of black equality.Among these symbols are: the battle itself, the brief case from Shad Whimore’s shop, and the flag tattoo on the stripper.
The narrator of this story is under the impression that he is to give his speech he delivered at graduation to a group of white pillars of the community.Much to his surprise, when he arrives at the ballroom he is asked to take part in the battle royal before his speech was to be delivered.The narrator, along with nine of his classmates, was blindfolded, dressed in boxing gloves, and placed into a ring.
The narrator is then forced to hear a series of racial slurs from the crowd throughout the battle royal.The symbolism of the battle shows how the crowd sees African-Americans as inferior.
By hearing these racist comments, the narrator realizes that the audience is not interested in what he has to say; instead, they are interested in ridiculing him and making a mockery of him.It is at this moment, the narrator understands his grandfather’s dying words.
He begins to understand the struggles of his grandfather during slave times.The narrator also believes that he has something to prove to the white audience.He believes that he must prove that African-Americans are just as good as and capable as whites.Not only is he proving it for himself, he is proving it for his grandfather and the black race.After the fight the narrator had understood his grandfather’s dying words t…