2006 Student Research Conference:
19th Annual Student Research Conference

Language & Literature

More Than Half a Century Later: Looking Back at Ralph Ellison’s “Battle Royal”
John H. Hitzel
Dr. Hena Ahmad, Faculty Mentor

The Civil War abolished slavery, giving blacks equal socio-legal status with whites, says most gradeschool history textbooks. But soon thereafter, Jim Crow laws were set up to undermine this beneath the guise of a “separate but equal” social and legal relationship between races. The inequality, however, lies outside of those laws as well as within them, as power that remains unchecked grows and perpetuates itself into the actions and words of the powerful. I will analyze how Ralph Ellison’s short story, “Battle Royal,” overtly depicts race relations in Jim Crow America and portrays the hegemonic power structure of white society through a series of events that occur to a young black high school graduate who is forced to question and re-evaluate his beliefs about race relations and how he should react to and act within a power structure that wants to maintain and entertain itself at his expense.

Keywords: Ralph Ellison, Battle Royal, historical criticism, psychological crit., hegemony, power structure, Jim Crow , race relations

Topic(s):English

Presentation Type: Oral Paper

Session: 37-5
Location: VH 1304
Time: 2:15

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