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Essay/Term paper: Battle royal

Essay, term paper, research paper:  Essays

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Battle Royal


If I had to pick one out of the many stories that we have read and say
that it moved me the most, I would have to say that the story would have to be
"Battle Royal." The reason that the story did move me so was because of the
author's keens use of symbolism. I intend to prove, using textual evidence, that
through the use of symbolism, the author portrays a larger meaning than what is
initially implied to the reader who does not thoroughly analyze the text.
Initially, the story seems to be about one black boy's struggle to get
ahead in a prodominetly white society. He tries' to accomplish this goal by
adhering to his grandfathers dieing words. His grand father told him to "live
with your head in the lion's mouth. I want you to overcome "em with yeses,
undermine "em with grins, agree "em to death and destruction, let "em swoller
you till they vomit or bust wide open." In other words his grandfather was
telling him to conform to the white peoples way of life in order to get ahead. I
believe that the story had a deeper meaning than the aforementioned one. I
believe that if the reader were to take a deeper look into all of the symbolism
in the story, one would find that the summation of all the symbolism is equal to
not only the struggle of this one black boy, but the struggle of all blacks at
the time in which this story takes place.
I think that if one were to analyze the grandfathers dieing words, one
would find the view of most conformist black Americans. The only way for a black
person to excel at that time was to conform to the white society. Any rebels
that tried to stand up for their rights were mostly killed by anti-black groups
such as the KKK.
There was one symbol in the story that stood out especially in my mind
and that was the stripper. She was a tall blonde haired blue eyed woman with a
tattoo of the American flag on her belie. I think that the stripper symbolized
the perfect American white woman, something that a black man could strive his
whole life to attain, but would never receive. This was a symbol of the many
things that a white man could have, whereas a black man could not.
I believe that the blind folded boxing in the story is a representation
of the blind hatred of blacks at the time this story took place. By blind hatred
I mean the ignorance of the people of the time who could hate a person for the
color of their skin. The boxers in the ring wailed at each other, not knowing
whom they were hitting or why, just that they had to fight. This was true in the
white American society of the time because they didn't know the black people,
they blindly sent blows of segregation without actually knowing each individual,
but stereotyped a whole race as no good and as lesser beings simply for the
color of their skin.
Another important symbol in the story that helps piece together my
theory of the meaning of the story was the money rug. These boys were given the
opportunity to make money by simply taking it off of the rug, the only hitch
being that the coins were electrified. Every time that a boy got his hands on a
piece of money, they would receive an electric shock. I believe that this
symbolized the black Americans economic struggle. The black American could make
a lot of money, but only through pain and toil and by becoming a "puppet on a
string" to the white people. Every time that a black person would get a leg p in
the ladder of life, someone was there to knock him back down. And even after all
the toil and hardship endured, they were no better off than they were when they
started, which was true in the story also because after all the shocks that the
boys had endured, when they got done, they found that the money was not real in
the first place. So they too were no better off than they were when they started.

After all was done and the boy finally delivered his speech, he was
given a brief case and a diploma. I believe that the act of giving him these
articles was a symbol of the white's dominance over the blacks. I say this
because the boy had to endure a boxing match, being shocked, and being called
all kinds of nasty names, and he had to do it before he delivered his speech. It
was if they were saying, "you've done a good job, thanks for the amusement,
here's your reward." I t all goes back to that "puppet on a string," the blacks
were made to everything that the whites wanted them to.
I hope that I have provided substantially enough documentation to prove
to you that this story has a deeper meaning than the struggle of one black boy
to deliver a speech to a white crowd who has no interest in what he's saying.
This story is about the struggle of the every day black American of the time.
Blacks had to conform to the white society, and were led to believe that if they
conformed, they would fit in. But as you can see in the end of the story, the
young black man portrayed in the story no more fit in at the end of his speech
than he did at the beginning. But something has to be said for the boys
persistence and for black Americans of the time. No matter what hardships the
boy endured, he kept his mind on his final goal, the speech that he had to
deliver. I believe that this was the mainstream way of thinking of the black
Americans of the time. No matter how much they were kept down by the whites,
they kept their minds on their final goal, social equality.

 

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