“Battle Royal” is the first chapter of the acclaimed novel The Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison. The narrator, now a 40 year old man, looks back at his high school graduation speech that was given to acclaim. This incident has haunted him for all of his adult life.
The narrator is asked to repeat his speech at a meeting of the town’s well-to-do white men. By the time, the narrator arrives at the meeting, most of the white men have already had too much to drink. Extremely nervous, the main character has to go through a night of “hell” before he actually performs his speech.
Several boys have been asked to compete in the Battle Royal. The young men are blindfolded and taken into a large area in front of the white men. The narrator and the others are to eliminate the other contestants anyway they can. The last two standing will fight until the other one has been defeated. The narrator is one of the last two, but is soundly beaten by a much larger boy.
The white men have...
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