What is the purpose of the dream at the end of the story "Battle Royal" by Ralph Ellison?

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Ralph Ellison’s “Battle Royal” is the first chapter of The Invisible Man. It tells the story of an African American teenager who is pitted against other young men in a blind “battle royal” for the amusement of white men, who then presented him with a scholarship to a black college. The narrator then gives the valedictorians speech to the group and repeats the phrase “social responsibility,” which the men love to hear.

The dream at the end of the story is a commentary on Booker T. Washington’s idea that social responsibility, rather than social equality, should be the goal of African Americans in the United States. The narrator, though he is chasing the American dream, understands that pushing social responsibility will ultimately be a fool's errand. He will never be accepted, and he will always be asked to fight for what he has—as he does in the “battle royal” for the white men that act as benevolent benefactors. Ellison is making a point at the end of the story,...

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