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Battle Royal

             In Ralph Ellison's "Battle Royal" Symbolism is used throughout the story. Symbols have more than one meaning than what appears to be the what is going on. Symbols in this story are contradictory. The main character is also the narrator who tells the story after he has become an educated adult. In Ralph Ellison's "Battle Royal" symbolism is used in the narrator's dream of his Grandfather to make him realize what he would have to achieve and strive for to have a successful life. The Grandfather had been a meek person all his life. On his deathbed he said some words that startled his family. He said, "our life is a war and I have been a traitor all my born days, a spy in the enemy country." (315). Instead of the Grandfather being direct with his family his last words were full of symbolism. This puzzled the family. It would be up to them to interpret what the Grandfather meant. The Grandfathers last words caused anxiety among the family. The narrator let the words disturb him when he did something good. The narrator said, "The old man's words were like a curse" (316). He felt this way because he did not understand his Grandfathers cautious way of telling him how the world is, how he will always be the minority and that he must be able to think for himself. The Grandfather knew it would effect the family more by symbolizing what he believed about life instead of coming out and telling them about it. The Grandfather knew the type of life he had led. He was not an educated man; he struggled all his life. The Grandfather only way of surviving in such a harsh world was to be nice to the race that was superior to him at that time. The only way he could survive was to, "overcome"em with yesses" (315). Despite the fact that the Grandfather knew that doing this is not what he wanted to do, he did it to survive. He wanted the best for his family and did not want them to go through the humility he had to.

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