What do the grandfather's last words mean in "Battle Royal" by Ralph Ellison?

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The narrator's grandfather's last words, uttered to the narrator's father, are as follows: 

Son, after I'm gone I want you to keep up the good fight. I never told you, but our life is a war and I have been a traitor all my born days, a spy in the enemy's country ever since I give up my gun back in the Reconstruction. Live with your head in the lion's mouth. I want you to overcome 'em with grins, agree 'em to death and destruction, let 'em swoller [sic] you till they vomit or bust wide open" (16).

The narrator precedes this recollection by describing his grandfather as a meek man who, along with the narrator's grandmother, "stayed in [his] place, worked hard, and brought up my father to do the same" (16). His final words diverged so much from whom they had known him to be that "younger children were rushed from the room, the shades drawn" (16). 

His words contain a sense of being conflicted: he describes himself as "[keeping] up the good fight" in a war against white supremacy, but he...

(The entire section contains 3 answers and 823 words.)

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