In Ellison's "Battle Royal", taken from his semi-autobiographical novel Invisible Man, the author uses the image of invisibility to strengthen the characters individuality.
In this time period slavery had ended but racism was still a major factor of every day life for African Americans. Due to racism being such an issue during this time it made it difficult for African Americans to make individuals of themselves in a white society. The main characters desire allows him to fight for his individuality. His goal throughout the battle royal was to deliver a speech, though he did not want to partake in this event, it was that important that he get the chance to deliver his speech. Important enough to keep him fighting until the end. With the thought of his speech running through his mind throughout the event he was determined to be the last man standing. He did not win the battle royal but was determined to be heard, to make himself visible to the "towns leading white citizens"(450). .
In the story the actual battle royal is a fight to be the last one standing, or an act of entertainment for the onlooking white spectators. To the narrator the battle royal was a chance to be heard, and to be seen by the people that mattered most. Education was so important to him, and these were the people that could better his education. Throughout the story we find that the main character has goal set for himself and he is determined to take any steps possible to reach it. This is where the battle royal comes into play. While blindfolded our main character can still only think about his speech. This is symbolic of blindness to the other things that matter at that moment, such as surviving the beatings of the other eight men surrounding him. To him, nothing else mattered, to him his future relied on giving this speech, and he would do whatever it took to get his chance to be "visible" to the men he believed could get him closer to the education he had always wanted.