Ralph Ellison Questions and Answers

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What is the conflict, moment of crisis, and peripety in Ralph Ellison's "A Party Down at the Square"?

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The conflict in Ralph Ellison 's "A Party Does at the Square" takes the form of the boy character's internal feelings about witnessing the burning of a black man. The narrator (the boy) frames the burning as a "party." This is partially because his uncle Ed has called it a party, but also probably because he himself is a white boy and wants to see things the way all the other white people in the town seem to see things. He says other things, like, "God, it was a hell of a night!" and "I was right there, see. I was right there watching it all." These parts of the narration give the impression that the boy sees the burning as an "event," a thing to see and witness (rather than a horrifying murder of a man). But there are other clues that indicate that the boy is also disturbed by the event. For example, he seems to be sick to his stomach by the events of the night, though he makes excuses for it. He also "talks tough" throughout the story, describing things like a boy who doesn't want to...

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