What is the setting in Ralph Ellison's "Battle Royal" from The Invisible Man?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The broader setting of this story is a bit difficult to nail down. It takes place somewhere in the deep South of the United States, but readers are never told a specific state. We are also not told a specific date or date range. The story was published in 1947, so it likely takes place in the early 1940s or sometime during the 1930s. What readers do know for sure is that the main events of the story itself take place in a hotel ballroom. The protagonist ends up in this ballroom because he has "won" the chance to give a speech about the place of blacks in American society to a group of wealthy white men. While the protagonist is eventually allowed to speak, he first has to endure unbelievable amounts of humiliation and violence in front of these men.

The setting is important because, as the ballroom of a swanky hotel, you'd think it would be a place of refined, civilized entertainment. But it proves to be anything but. The ballroom is turned into a bear pit, with a mob of baying white men...

(The entire section contains 4 answers and 553 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your 48-Hour Free Trial
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team