In "Battle Royal," what is the significance of the grandfather's dying speech in relation to the narrator's speech/boxing match?

The dying grandfather's speech in "Battle Royal" advises fighting white people in society by smiling and going along with them. This will beat them at their own game. The narrator does this in his boxing match by allowing himself to be humiliated. He also does this in his graduation speech by replacing the word "equality" with the word "responsibility." In return, he earns a scholarship to a black college. He has a dream, however, that questions this strategy.

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The narrator's dying grandfather conveys his anger at white people to his grandson. However, he tells him to fight white people by pretending to go along with them. This way, the grandfather says, the grandson can beat them at their own game:

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.

In other words, he is advising his grandson not to give white people any excuses to hurt him while secretly doing all he can to undermine them.

The narrator puts this philosophy into practice when he is asked to make a high school graduation speech before some important white men in his town. He and other young black men are being honored for their achievements. Before he gives the speech, however, he and the other black teens are forced through humiliations for the amusement of white people. These include boxing blindfolded and picking up money from a rug that gives them electric shocks. During...

(The entire section contains 3 answers and 1056 words.)

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Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on April 15, 2020