What is a battle royal and what is the narrator's attitude toward the battle in which he must participate? Why?

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D. Reynolds eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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In "Battle Royal," the battle is an entertainment the young black men, who thought they came to be honored for their high school achievements, have to provide for the white business leaders, called the "big shots."

First, they have to box blindfolded—a terrifying experience.

Next, (fake) gold coins and bills are scattered across a carpet. As the white spectators watch, the young black men must scramble for the money on the carpet. The nasty trick, which they don't realize at first, is that the carpet is electrified, so they are shocked while they are on it.

The battle royal is to withstand the shocks to gather the money while the whites enjoy the black boys' pain. What the young men have to battle is not only the physical pain of being electrocuted, but also the pain of humiliation. This battle is merely a symbol of the larger battle black people have to fight for recognition and acceptance as fully human in a society where the deck is stacked against them. As the grandfather says on...

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