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 box
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. The symbolism of the battle shows how the crowd sees African-Americans as inferior. Throughout the story, the narrator shows how African-Americans have struggled just to be able to be recognized as a productive part of civilization. She did not have to do anything to get these freedoms or respect. All the symbols in this story show the struggles of African-Americans. The flag tattoo symbolizes how a stripper receives more respect and had more freedom than the narrator had. He has now lived it first hand and realizes how the world had always treated the black race. The narrator shows throughout the story that the fight for black equality is not over. The narrator is then forced to hear a series of racial slurs from the crowd throughout the battle royal. The superintendent showed the narrator that even though the crowd had no respect for him, he did and believed in him. The brief case set the narrator free from his grandfather"tms deathbed curse. It symbolizes the superintendent"tms hope for future African-American generations. The brief case, and the contents in it, would be the start of a long journey in his education to help his race.