How old is the narrator?

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Ellison does not mention the narrator's exact age, but he does say that he has just graduated and has won a scholarship to attend the State College for Negros. Therefore, the narrator is probably 17 to 18 years old.

The story revolves around the narrator attending what it is called...

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Ellison does not mention the narrator's exact age, but he does say that he has just graduated and has won a scholarship to attend the State College for Negros. Therefore, the narrator is probably 17 to 18 years old.

The story revolves around the narrator attending what it is called a battle royal with the goal of delivering a speech about the importance of education in the lives of black men. Before he can, however, he has to fight against a group of black boys around his age in the boxing ring.

This is no ordinary boxing match. The boys are blindfolded and with groups of white men urging them on to step into the ring, try to land punches, and knock out their unseen opponents. One boy even knocks himself out by walking into the ring post.

The narrator has some luck when his blindfold slips down enough for him to avoid most blows. Though he is careful not to let on that he can see.

Finally, only two people are left in the ring. The narrator and a large boy called Tatlock. At this point, the narrator is desperate to give his speech and he tries to persuade Tatlock to take a fall so that he can be proclaimed the winner. Tatlock refuses, however, and easily defeats him.

Nevertheless, the white men call the narrator back to say his piece. He is, after all, "the smartest boy [they've] got out there in Greenwood."

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