In the story Battle Royal, what is the symbolism for the dancing blonde woman?

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amy-lepore's profile pic

amy-lepore | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

The narrator of the Battle Royal understands that the both he and his group of "warriors" as well as the dancing blonde woman symbolize the otherness of women and minorities during this time period.  White men were in control.  They used women and the black boys as playthings for their entertainment.  Both the woman and the boys are reduced to "things" in this book, and especially in this excerpt.  They can not hope to be treated as humans...not even with the delivery of his excellent speech about, ironically, "social responsibility". 

The woman is naked and seems to be under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or the protection of her own mind taking her to another place far from the oogling eyes of these men and boys. She is an embarrassment to herself and to the black boys since to look on a white women with clothing on is not acceptable, much less to stare at a naked white woman.  She is the forbidden land for these boys.  The emotions they have in seeing her are channeled into a free-for-all chaotic blindfolded boxing match.  The boys are filled with shock at her state, embarrassment at having witnessed it and reacting sexually to it, and rage at the white men for having subjected them to this seige of emotions for their own evil entertainment.

To the white men, this woman nor the boys are individuals.  They are no better than animals thrown into a ring and made to bleed internally and externally.

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djl2284's profile pic

djl2284 | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted on

First of all, muzzly123 is incorrect. She does NOT symbolize America. Her American flag tattoo is an ironic gesture added by Ellison. America is supposed to be the land where "all men are created equal." However, ironically, she is in an environment that does not embrace equality. Secondly, amy-lepore is on point with her answer. The blonde woman symbolizes a "forbidden fruit" that the black boys cannot have, let alone touch. Furthermore, she is another disenfranchised person to the white men. They use her as a form of entertainment.

Lastly, not most importantly, muzzly123, "garuenteed" is NOT a word. Spell check your responses. The person who asked this question is OBVIOUSLY going to use the responses in an assignment for school; therefore, you shouldn't use words that don't exist. You don't want her to get points docked off due to a spelling error, do you?

muzzly123's profile pic

muzzly123 | Student | eNotes Newbie

Posted on

The woman is actually a symbol for america, hence the american flag tatoo and the red and blue makeup. She symbolizes the supposed equality that is garuenteed by our constitution. She holds a low level in the social stratification, yet she still is held in higher respects than the blacks. They are ashamed to look at her, signifying their blindness to freedom and to the hypocracy of america.

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