In "Battle Royal" by Ralph Ellison, what does the dancer represent? What's tattooed on her belly and why are they afraid to look? In what ways is the men's treatment of the dancer analagous to their treatment of the boys?

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The dancer has an American flag tattooed on her belly. She represents the white America the black young men are forbidden to look at or aspire to.

The young men are afraid to look at her because they know that white women are off-limits to them. Looking at a white woman in a way that could be interpreted as desire could lead to being lynched, something the teenage boys want to avoid at all costs.

The stripper is analogous to the youth because both are powerless against the white men who run the town, and have been paid (one way or another) by them to do their bidding and serve their pleasure. The powerful men want to be entertained, and the woman and the youths are there to entertain them.

The white men show little regard for the humanity of either the woman or the black young men. Both are kept in their places through humiliation: had she more power, the woman would probably not choose to be standing naked in a public place, her intimate parts on view to whatever man has the privilege to...

(The entire section contains 3 answers and 879 words.)

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