Battle Royal


After I read the story "Battle Royal" by Ralf Ellison, I could not restrain my thoughts about issues of morality and what it has to do with reality, from clashing in to one another in my mind. As these two completely different ideas were pushing me to the brink of madness, my mind began to click. The swirling messy cocktail of two abstract ideas started taking shape as I began remembering what I had learned earlier in school, and from my summer readings. At this point I came to the realization that a persons reality, that is that persons mental reflection of the society and or time in which he or she live in, is consistent with that persons morality or standards of right and wrong. I realize that my concept of a person's reality being consistent with morality is quite confusing. I also except the fact that there are always exceptions to rules. In this case it being that some peoples moralities contradicting their reality. However this realization of mine makes perfect sense to me, and I will attempt to explain my thoughts to you in hopes that by the time you are finished reading this essay you will understand what I mean.

The story "Battle Royal" is the key in understanding and seeing the relationship between morality and reality. The characters in this story, namely the grandfather and his grandson, reveal to us their individuality, principles, morals, and ethics doing so they unfold a map that reveals their mental reality. Because their principals, morals and ethics reveal to us their mental reality, then their mental reality discloses the reality of the society in which they live in. However to clarify my thoughts I will use Book 5 of Plato's "Allegory of the Cave" to elaborate more about reality and morality. And from that I will show you how the grandson breaks away from the reality that he is been taught to see, and steps in to the light that his grandfather guide's him too before he dies.

"Battle Royal" is a story about a black boy that is psychologically wakened when he overhears what his grandfather says at his deathbed to his father. This boy, before he realizes who he really is, and his social standing in the society that he lives, is searching to find himself. However this search is filled with many obstacles, because he lives in a time when people of his status are conditioned to act, talk, and behave in a certain way.

Our hero's journey toward the light (truth) is started a long time ago. However in the beginning he is unable to get on the right course, due to the wrong advice he is given by different people; he says it as "All my life I was looking for something, and every were that I turned someone tried to tell me what it was. I accepted their answers too, though they were often in contradiction" (448). Because each time that he accepts their advice he is little by little pushed off the right track. It is not until he realizes that he is searching for himself, and instead of asking others questions, he needs to ask the questions to himself. Once he discovers whom to turn to, he begins a long and difficult journey in which he realizes that he is a unique person, he puts it as, "I am nobody but myself."(449). This means that he is unique and he is who he is, black. However before he comes to this enlightenment he discovers that he is an "invisible man"(449). He marks himself invisible because in the society in which a person is unheard and unseen by others is invisible.

At that point our young friend's problem is clear. He is a black boy in a White men's world, in which he is not see or heard. Yet he still does not know what to do about it, well at-least not until he hears his grandfathers words to his father:

Son, after I'm gone I want you to keep up a good fight. I never told you, but your 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,