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What is the purpose of the grandfather's deathbed scene in "Battle Royal" by Ralph...

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ranger1980 | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 1) Valedictorian

Posted January 27, 2013 at 8:54 PM via

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What is the purpose of the grandfather's deathbed scene in "Battle Royal" by Ralph Ellison?

What those the narrator's speech is , and the narrator's dream.


What those he trying to tell us in the grandfather's deathbed scene? 

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litteacher8 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted January 27, 2013 at 9:49 PM (Answer #1)

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The story opens with the narrator remembering his grandfather’s death.  At the end of the story, he wonders if the dream is prophetic.

The narrator reflects on how his grandparents were lied to when they were told they had been freed.  They are not really free because of the way they are treated by the whites.

"Son, after I'm gone I want you to keep up the good fight. .. 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."

The speech shocks the narrator and everyone else, because grandfather had been “the meekest of men” and always behaved the way the white men think black men should act.

After his horrible experience with the dancer and the fight, the narrator gives a speech but accidentally says “social equality” instead of “social responsibility.”  He is able to convince the men that it is a mistake, and finishes his speech.  He is rewarded with a scholarship, but he has a dream about his grandfather and wonders if he is going to follow his advice after all.


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