Explain the motif of "blindness" in the short story "Battle Royal" by Ralph Ellison.

Expert Answers

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

Blindness is a complicated motif in this story.

On the simplest level, blindness regarding society is what black people experience in white society. We are shown a world in which white people control everything and black people are at a disadvantage because they are blind to how the strings are being pulled.

The blindfolding of the ten black teenagers before they box is a metaphor for how white people control the black experience by putting black people at a disadvantage. As if to emphasize the symbolism that it is white people doing the blinding, the narrator states that the teenagers were:

blindfolded with broad bands of white cloth.

The narrator makes it very clear that being blindfolded is what makes the fight so dangerous and painful. He doesn't know where or when the blows are going to land, and he has little means to defend himself against them. This, again, is a metaphor for what it feels like to be black in a white world.

However, blindness is also connected to desire for access to the...

(The entire section contains 2 answers and 885 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

Posted on

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team

Posted on