Ralph Ellison's short story, "Battle Royal", is symbolic in a myriad of different ways. In one form, the battle royal is symbolic of a struggle for equality. More specifically the battle royal is emblematic of the "battle" for egalitarianism in America's white society by African Americans in the 1950's; when the story was set and written. The battle royal and the narrator's attempt to give his speech while being mocked by the white men are directly representative of the trials and tribulations African Americans had to endure to achieve equality. .
While attempting to deliver his speech, the narrator must first participate in a battle royal. The conditions of this battle are unparalleled. The boys are first shepherded into a room, where they are forced to watch a naked woman dancing, while being yelled at for and for not watching the nude woman. This signifies the views of whites towards blacks in two ways during the 1950's. They are bellowed at for watching the woman, signifying they aren"t "good enough" to observe the white woman. Secondly they are badgered for not watching the woman. This signifies Caucasian's outlook that there was something wrong with the "Negros". .
Subsequently, the actual fighting of the battle royal ensues. The battles for equality in the 1950's are clearly embodied by the barbaric fighting of 10 boys in a ring while being watched and scoffed at by whites in high social standing. The boys are vectored by a white blindfold. The blindfolding in the battle symbolizes the state of fear, confusion, and darkness in which whites enjoy keeping the black race inside. .
The final emblem of the blacks 1950's fight for equality after the narrator's relentless quest is that he is able to give his speech. The narrator is ridiculed and scrutinized by the white society, such as in the 1950's. This is symbolic of the how America's white population treated African Americans for countless years, often taking a position of power and authority, feeling superior to the blacks.