Slavery might end with the signing of a piece of paper, but ending racism is something different entirely. Growing up in the south as a black man surrounded by passive racism and backhanded comments, is a disastrous force to constantly push on a developing mind. “Battle Royal” is about a young black man following in what he thought was his grandfather’s footsteps. Until on his deathbed his grandfather admits the truth. He calls himself a traitor and a spy; in reference to all the kind deeds and smiles he has been giving out his entire life.
This young man has been mirroring his grandfather’s actions but completely missing the meanings behind them. To confront subconscious internal conflicts within ones self, a young black man must go against his inherent reactions to his surroundings and think about the true reasons behind his actions. Like all teenagers, this young black man is starting to realize life isn’t what he thought it was going to be. He starts thinking, about life, his future, what to do and what there is to do. He starts asking questions, asking everyone he knows.
Some answers are good and some are bad, some contradict others and some contradict themselves, but he accepts them all. After all something is better than nothing right? He assumes everyone else has it figured out but him. Without much to build off of along with his grandfather’s seemingly contradictory statement about life, it was difficult to understand it all. Starting out at step one and using advice that was a product of years and years of profound thought coming from a fully developed brain, is almost an impossible task.
But anything worth doing is never easy. If someone is very charitable it is safe to say that that person is kind and loving, but maybe that person isn’t acting so simply. Maybe he is incompetent and completely dependent on others, constantly in debt and when he gets anything he knows he needs to give it away so when he is in the hole again he has someone to lean on. No action is simple no thought is simple and a society is a combination of a thousand thoughts and actions all happening at the same time.
In order to progress ones self mentally one needs to think under the surface, think at the root of thought break it down to as concrete of evidence that that person is capable of and build up from there. To no longer be ashamed of ones grandparents being slaves, but to be ashamed of being ashamed. This young black man was born into a society of whites that hate blacks but pretend they don’t. His grandfather was born a slave and was set free. It was much easier for the grandfather to understand what he had to do.
He knew that the white man hated him, but now there wasn’t anything they could do about it, he was a free man. He knew he needed to “live with his head in the lions mouth”. In this time in the south white people hated black people, but ever since the Emancipation Proclamation they needed to treat them like equals, but there are plenty of white people that hate each other simply because some people deserve to be hated. In light of this the grandfather new that he could never give the white folks a reason to hate him.
With every backhanded comment he would return a wholehearted compliment, with every trip and shove he would smile and apologies, he would do everything he could for these people because he knew deep down inside they loathed him for it, even if they couldn’t admit it to themselves. Show humility, but keep your pride. Never let the white man pretend they are doing anything for you, never accept anything from them only burry them in the ground with smiles.
Showing humility can put your head in the sky but having your pride will keep you feet on the ground. The young man in the story wrote a “false” speech on humility knowing that it was wrong but not yet understanding why. This speech wins him a competition and he is invited to a battle royal to present his speech. In which he willingly watches a naked girl dance around and nearly get raped. He participates in a fight for the amusement of rich white men. He crawls on his hands and knees for money on an electrified mat like a fool and a beggar.
Is driven to swallow mouthful after mouthful of his own blood during the presentation of his own speech. Ending with his school principle walking out and giving him a scholarship, a gift for the poor nigger. This young black man had the right idea to show humility, take the white mans orders, do what he says but don’t let him pretend he’s doing it for you. His head was in the clouds but his feet didn’t stay on the ground. He should have understood why his speech was false. He should have turned around when the girl was dancing.
Yes he should have participated in the fight but only to take punches never give them to leave his guard down. He should have taken the shock of the mat but not the money. When he was giving his speech he should have spit out every drop of blood in his mouth unless he were to save it to spit on his principles gift of a scholarship, or in other words claim of ownership. Do what they say, but don’t let them pretend they’re doing something they’re not. I do not believe that this tory was about the young boys transformation into adult hood, but rather the major events in his life that sparked the ideas that will later grow into a deeper understanding of the world and maturity. The boy did not change throughout the story, too much happened too fast, for him to be able to keep up with it all. The story ends with the boy having a dream with his grandfather laughing at him because of his scholarship, and stating that he might understand what it means after going to college. Recognizing that the boy has yet to confront the unharmonious relationship between his conscious and subconscious.