In the story "Battle Royal," what is the significance of the electrified carpet covered with bills and coins?

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As the previous Educator mentioned, the electric carpet is not only a symbol of the way in which black people had to demean themselves in order to make a living; it's also a symbol of the mortal risk that existed for upwardly mobile, ambitious black men, like the narrator. The message is that these young men, who are scrambling for coins that turn out to be nothing but worthless tokens, can scramble and compete for success in a racist and capitalist system that has been set up against them. In other words, the ring in which the young men box each other during the Battle Royal is a metaphor for the United States, which pits them against each other for nothing more than the illusion of attaining wealth.

Ralph Ellison published Invisible Man in 1952. The postwar period is characterized by a mixture of hopeful progress. A. Philip Randolph successfully led a protest in 1941 that got President Franklin D. Roosevelt to ban discrimination in defense industries and federal bureaus, and, in 1948,...

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