Relate the following quote from Ellison’s essay, “Richard Wright’s Blues,” to the story told in Chapter One: “The Blues is an impulse to keep the painful details and episodes of brutal experience alive in one’s aching consciousness, to finger its jagged grain, and to transcend it, not by the consolation of philosophy, but by squeezing from it a near-tragic, near-comic lyricism.”

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The opening chapter of Invisible Man (also known as "Battle Royale") presents an episode that is painful and brutal and that directly confronts ideas of exploitation (by whites) and complicity (by blacks) in a system of racial prejudice and bigotry. 

The chapter is centrally concerned with a public spectacle -- a fight arranged between a number of black boys who are blindfolded and set against each other in a boxing ring. When the boys are paid, the money is placed on a electrified mat that shocks anyone who touches it. As some of the money is in the form of coins, the boys cannot be paid without receiving an electric shock. Some of the boys are also forcibly pushed onto the mat and severely shocked. Later, the narrator discovers the coins are fake. They are worthless tokens. 

After this demeaning and cruel activity is concluded, the protagonist gives a prepared speech about how racial harmony will come about if blacks remain humble, echoing the philosophy of Booker T. Washington with...

(The entire section contains 813 words.)

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