say otherwise. What is so startling in this passage is how quickly the protagonist, who prior fancied himself a Booker T. Washington-type, is now whittled down into one of the brutes he so disdains. He sees a reward and must grab for it, at the expense of harming any number of his classmates. That is how he has now been manipulated to think. The thought has not even entered his mind to hold anything against the white men, because the actual fists that are punching him are those of hisclassmates. The white men offer the money reward on the (electrified) rug as soon as the battle royal is finished, so possible thoughts of anger towards the white men are squashed, because these hands are the ones that feed and pet. The cycle of racial injustice can blind those involved from seeing the greater picture. This is normal life for the black men, as they have been caught in this cycle for a lifetime. By making them suffer and then quickly rewarding them, whether it bewith money or praise, the white men keep the young black men ignorant and blindly running for whatever the next promised reward might be. This manipulation keeps the victims caught in a web of racial injustice, as it is so tightly embedded with the universal human need for approval and acceptance.
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Works CitedEllison, Ralph. “Battle Royal.” The Compact Bedford Introduction to Literature, edited by Michael Meyer, 11thed., Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2017, p. 223-232.
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