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Discrimination and Ignorance in the “Battle Royal”

In: English and Literature

Submitted By sehowell17
Words 1632
Pages 7
Dr. Keaton
Am. Lit. 214
12-8-09
Discrimination and Ignorance in the “Battle Royal”
The government made it hard for African Americans to lead normal lives in the south, after slavery was abolished until the mid nineteen sixties. This was because there was extreme discrimination and racism towards African Americans by the whites, and the government did not do anything to stop this. There were many discriminatory laws in place called the Jim Crow Laws, which basically made it legal for whites to treat blacks with cruelty. In the short story “Battle Royal” by Ralph Ellison, there are many examples of the cruelties done to blacks by whites. Throughout the story, the white men hurt the protagonist and the other black boys emotionally, psychologically, and physically, and yet the protagonist still feels that blacks should follow the cruel and unjust laws for the good of society. In the beginning of the novel, the white men use a naked stripper to gain control of the protagonist and his group and hurt them psychologically and emotionally. As the African American literature critic Lee states, “ the stripper is a synthetic metaphor of white Mother America, Pocahontas, Martha Washington, the Scarlet Woman—white-fleshed, an object for rape and adoration, a pleasure-object--and yet for this “Nigger” a locus classicus of threat, a taboo, a castration” (Lee 23). This woman is a metaphor for how the government is also controlling the black people’s lives. The stripper is meant as pleasure for men, but for black men, it could mean serious trouble. If black men look at a naked white woman, they could be put in jail, beaten, or even killed in the most extreme cases. The black boys, including the protagonist are psychologically and emotionally distraught. The protagonist “wanted at one and the same time to run from the room, to sink through the floor, or go to her and cover he...

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