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Battle Royal: First Reading Response
In the short story Battle Royal by Ralph Ellison, the narrator was struggling to overcome racism.
On his grandfather?s deathbed, he could not forget the words he told his father, ?Son, after I'm gone I
want you to keep up the good fight. I never told you, but our life is a war and I have been a traitor all
my born days, a spy in the enemy's country ever since I give up my gun back in the Reconstruction.
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."
(Ellison). They did not know what his grandfather was trying to tell them until the narrator was invited
to give his graduation speech at a meeting of his small Southern town?s upper-class white people. His
speech was similar to his grandfather?s advice. But first, he must survive the battle royal, a boxing war
in the ring against fellow African Americans.
Ellison experiences a development during his fight in Battle Royal. He develop an aggressive
approach to the circumstances that outbreaks the African American community. He seemingly fall
upon the real meaning of his grandfather?s dying request, by being aware, he is able to get on a plan of
action that would certainly settle his grandfather. The participants in the Battle Royal are blindfolded
which means they are not aware of what is happening around them. And that is what most likely
happened to the African Americans in that era. They were slaves and were not treated equally by other
people especially the white people. The narrator fought really hard not only to deliver his speech but to
show his grandfather that he?s a fighter and he will fight for what he believe is right. He succeeded
somehow and was able to deliver his speech to the people.
While reading the story, I could not believe that he went through all that. I felt sadness while reading
it. All the pain he had somehow represented that he is a true fighter and that his grandfather was just
next to him helping him out. He must have died in the fight but he was strong and I feel that someone
was guiding him. After the fight, I was impressed by the author and I was touched by the words he
said. Everyone wanted to be treated equally, and here is a brave boy who is trying to teach the people
of what he learned from his grandfather; that we have to fight on what we believe is right and to let
people know that God created us equal no matter what color we have. I believe that there is some
people out there who still have the same situation like story, and I could say that I became one of
I migrated to the United States 5 years ago. On my first year in New York City, I still have these
moments where I looked back from where I came from and was not ready to face a new environment
and new people. I could say that it took me a long time to adjust but I get to adopt the culture easily.
This is when I learned about racism and why people look each other differently. We may not be
conscious about the world around us, but even nowadays racism is still everywhere. I was numb
before because in my country this never became an issue until I moved here. In Ellison?s story, I
understood very well what he was trying to point out. I read stories similar to this and I was always
impressed on how they deliver and express their stories. I felt the author?s pain from the fight but I
figured out that everything was going to be worth it in the end, and it did. He received his price and
made his grandfather very proud of him. I had the same kind of experience back then. I was bullied in
the train and outside the street. People give me an attitude when they talk to me. I?m Asian and
most people look at me as a weak individual. I have no rights to express my feelings because I felt
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Existentialists, Ralph Ellison, Lakota people, Invisible Man, battle royal by ralph ellison, ralph ellison, graduation speech, reading response, aggressive approach, grandfathers, deathbed, first reading, death and destruction, good fight, narrator, vomit, african americans, traitor, short story, slaves, racism, bust, reconstruction, lion
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