In "Battle Royal" Chapter 1 of Invisible Man, what does the naked blonde lady represent?

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teachertaylor eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In "Battle Royal," the first chapter of Invisible Man, the narrator has been asked to give a speech only to find out that he is instead expected to box on stage.  Before the boxing matches begin, the crowd gets quite drunk and a naked blonde lady is paraded across the stage for the whole crowd to see.  The members of the crowd are primarily white male spectators and the boys who will box are black youth.  Amid this scene, the naked blonde lady is a symbol for the stereotypical notion that white women are unattainable yet desired by black men.  So she is put on display for the spectator crowd to suggest their ownership of her sexuality.  Further, the boxing match is a scene that shows the power of the crowd and the organizers over the young black men, and so too does this power extend to women.  As a result, the entire scene is a complete backlash against the supposed values of the American system and what the narrator thought he would speaking about when agreeing to come to the event.

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Battle Royal; or, The Invisible Man

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