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Battle Royal

            In Battle Royal, by Ralph Ellison, the narrator is very confused. He is a black man trapped in a white society with no one to guide him. He is being pulled in two different directions by the advice of his grandfather, and by white society, which he longs to please. While attempting to satisfy their wishes, he forgets what is most important, his own dignity.
             The narrator's problem starts with his parents. They will not discuss his grandfather's advice with him, and because of this he never knows exactly what it means. His grandfather had always been a model citizen. He was a quiet man who always worked to please white people. And while on his deathbed he called himself a traitor. What struck the narrator the most is that he acted in the same way his grandfather did, and always received compliments from the whites in his society. His grandfather referred to these types of acts as being treacherous. This brought on a feeling of guilt in the narrator. How could he maintain the respect of the whites without being called a traitor? .
             It took him a while, but eventually he learned the meaning of his grandfather's advice. He was doing the acts that his grandfather meant, when he referred to "the good fight." However, there was one problem that he didn't understand. In trying to impress the up-standing whites of his community, he was allowing them to take advantage of his kindness. He wanted to impress them because he felt that they were the ones, who mattered, and only their respect and admiration counted. This was the difference. His grandfather's advice was meant to have the "younguns" put on a mask when with the whites. Their opinion did matter, because it was them who controlled society and them who determined the quality of life in the black community. But his inner-self must be preserved, otherwise he would be nothing more than a slave to the whites. The "good fight" is the battle to maintain his own dignity, and also earn the praise of the whites.

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