With battle royal. He and nine other young,
With dreams of becoming a successful African-American in a white dominant world, the narrator goes to great lengths to please white people, so he could earn an education even if it meant throwing away his own values and self-respect. Before the narrator’s grandfather had died, “he called himself a traitor and a spy, and he had spoken of his meekness as a dangerous activity” (16). Instead of heeding his grandfather’s regret, the narrator chooses to also live a meek life and is “praised by the most lily-white men of the town” (16). With a great reputation, the narrator is allowed to give a speech to the powerful white men of the town. However, when he arrived to the gathering, he was ordered to take part of a battle royal. He and nine other young, black men climbed down into the arena and “allowed themselves to be blinded with broad bands of white cloth” (21). Ellison purposely uses a white cloth to blindfold the fighter because it symbolizes the black men’s inability to see the manipulation and racism of the white supremacists. After the battle, the narrator gives his speech and is rewarded a briefcase and a scholarship. The white men’s reward, in a sense, is a form of controlling the narrator. The briefcase, an item that reoccurs throughout the story, is a symbol of the submissive aspect of the narrator’s identity. The narrator is only able to achieve the briefcase and scholarship after pleasing the white men. When the narrator shows Mr. Norton around the campus, he mistakenly progresses to the house of Trueblood, a shunned man who committed incest with his daughter. Trueblood recounts his history to them and “when he finishes his story, Norton feels compelled to pay him” (Baumbach 17). Ellison rehashes the action of rewarding the black men and reinstates his message of white domination over minorities. Soon after the Trueblood scene, Dr. Bledsoe is infuriated with the actions of the narrator.