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The Use of Irony in “Battle Royal” by Ralph Ellison

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Battle Royal is an intriguing tale that has been written very well. The story tackles a number of concerns, including the social conflict that occurs between the characters, especially between whites and blacks. In terms of his life, the plot centers around a narrator. There are some ironic moments in Battle Royale. The story's use of metaphor has revealed different facets of the character, such as how he views life and how the white world treats the black community. It paints an accurate view of what the protagonist was thinking when writing the story while still emphasizing the intended message. Hence, irony has been covered well in the story by the author.
The battle that has been included in the story reveals that black men were physically fighting each other while, on the other hand, they were fighting emotionally against the whites. This is ironical based on the fact that it creates a bigger battle that the black men cannot win presently due to the numbers that they have. In the story, Ellison mentioned that 'Everyone fought hysterically. It was a complete anarchy. Everybody fought everybody else. No group fought together for long' (Ellison 883) which is ironical because it shows that the black men are showing their anger towards each other rather than struggling to attain equality within the society. This is because, at the time based on the set up of the story, African Americans were facing various challenges within the society. Hence, it is ironical that they were fighting each other instead of coming together for a common goal.
The story has used irony to create the effect mirage, and this has been executed effectively. The author has used fictions and alternating truths that make the reader believe that there is something harmless happening to the narrator. Throughout the story, Ellison has shown that the narrator is naïve, and this is mainly when it comes to the complete commands that formed the white people. The irony sets in when it comes to the battle royal, the subservient behavior cause the narrator great humiliation which made him angry. Also, the narrator struggles to be conscious throughout the contest as he thinks about the speech that he will deliver. This is ironical based on the character of the narrator as at the time. One ought to be occupied with issues that are related to safety since it is a period of battle when people are being killed.
The story has included an event that took place inside the ballroom that has been able to show ironical aspects. There are senior government officials the room and the irony is that the white people who are present are acting irresponsibly by threatening to kill their black guests (Ellison 231). This is ironical because it is contradicting for the white people to invite the black people only to kill them in front of the government officials. Also, on the scene within the ballroom, there was the parading of a naked white woman in front of the black guest. This is ironical as it contradicts since at the time there was no way there could be the parading of white women in front of the black guest because, at the time, the society was structured in a manner whereby white persons could not get humiliated to please a back person.
There are pitfalls in the story that have revealed the use of irony. The story warns about the pitfall of temptations. It is ironical that temptation has been able to cloud the judgment of one of the classmates of the narrator known as Tatlock. Tatlock's rejection of the plea by the narrator to have blacks stop fighting each other shows that he is focused on being the champion in the siltation through entertaining the white drunkards who are cruel to him at the expense of his people. This is ironical as contradicts how the black were living within the American society.
The purpose of the narrator to give the speech is ironic historically. Instead of the narrator being appreciated and rewarded by the white people, the narrator is tricked and humiliated as he tries to entertain the white people. The irony of this situation is that the narrator is aware that the white people are after using him for their entertainment and yet he continues to entertain them. This is ironic as the narrator has shown that the white people are cruel as they had even planned to kill the black guests and still he continues to work for them. The narrator should have looked for other ways to earn money rather than going through all the trouble just to please individuals who are cruel to him despite the work that he does for them.
Also, the narrator is made to feel like he is the leader of the blacks and this is because he was given a scholarship to one of the state university for the black people. However, the irony of the situation is visible through the humiliations that the narrator has been shown by the white people such as when he was forced to fight as a way of entertaining the white people. It then beats logic that the white people would consider one as being the best when it comes to black people and still go on to humiliate him.
The events that have been used in the story indicate that slavery had ended and black people were no longer being controlled the whites. However, the irony of the story is that the white people are controlling the narrator. The narrator is forced to fight, and he is even involved in the entertainment of the white people. Also, the irony is that the narrator seems to be unaware of the fact that the white people can not control him because slavery had ended already, and this is because he is allowing the white people to control him without protesting in any manner. The story also reveals that the narrator got a scholarship to attend one of the state university for the blacks. This is an indication that there is segregation of the blacks and whites which are ironical based on the fact that the story indicates that slavery had already ended at the time.
The analysis has shown that the author has been able to apply the use of irony to reinforce the effectiveness of the story as well as the message that it is passing. The irony has been used effectively in all the scenarios have been employed by the author.
_x000C_Works Cited
Ellison, Ralph. "Battle Royal." American Literature. Ed William E. Cain. Vol. 2. New York: Penguin Academics, 2004. 878-90.
Ellison, Ralph. "Battle royal." The compact Bedford introduction to literature. 3rd ed., New York: Bedford/St. Martin's. (1994): 231-235

December 15, 2021
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