Study Guide

Battle Royal; or, The Invisible Man

by Ralph Ellison

Battle Royal; or, The Invisible Man Characters

Characters

Blonde Who Strips And Is Chased By The Audience
Before the ten classmates fight, they are forced to consider a ‘‘magnificent blonde—stark naked.’’ The white men menacingly watch as the young men tremble with fear, knowing that in the time they live, a Black man who demonstrates sexual interest in a white woman risks being lynched. The narrator's description of the woman objectifies her into a ‘‘kewpie doll’’ as he tries to express his contradictory feelings of lust and fear. As the woman dances, the white male audience grows increasingly rowdy until they are literally passing her around over their heads. Finally, the woman escapes and the ‘‘battle royal’’ begins.

Classmates At The Smoker
When the narrator shows up at the hotel, expecting to give his speech, he is grouped with nine of his fellow classmates, all of whom are African American. The main event at the "Battle Royal'' is the free-for-all fight between these ten young men who are blindfolded. Except for Tatlock, the story does not fill in individual characteristics for this group. In general, the narrator clearly looks down on them, feeling he is superior to what he perceives to be a rough bunch.

Mr. Colcord
An audience member with breath stinking of whiskey, Mr. Colcord tries to force the narrator on to the electrified rug. The narrator not only resists Colcord's efforts but responds by trying to topple Colcord onto the rug in ways that cannot appear obvious. In town, Colcord owns a chain of movie houses and ‘‘entertainment places.’’

M.C.
A nameless and faceless voice that directs the audience's attention...

(The entire section is 689 words.)