Because Ellison's Invisible Man, from which "Battle Royal" is taken, offers a complex and nearly comprehensive indictment of racism in early twentieth-century America, multiple thesis statements could work for an essay on the chapter. One that seems to address several elements in the story concerns the ability of the narrator (or the black man) to have agency in his life, as opposed to be played for a fool, a token "Uncle Tom," an entertainer, or a confirmation of stereotypes about his race.
Much of the novel, and certainly this chapter, centers on the narrator's growing awareness of his perceived place in society. In this chapter, the young narrator believes he has achieved something through discipline, hard work, and conformity that will allow him to move upwards in society. He believes he has been nominated to speak in front of the white business owners at this event, delivering his graduation speech:
On my graduation day I delivered an oration in which I showed that humility was the...
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