‘Battle Royal’ by Ralph Ellison and ‘Big Black Good Man’ by Richard Wright

‘Battle Royal’ by Ralph Ellison and ‘Big Black Good Man’ by Richard Wright

            As we move towards a society of equality and acceptance of our differences, we look back at one of the most controversial issues in history, which even now, is still in existence - ‘Battle Royal’ by Ralph Ellison and ‘Big Black Good Man’ by Richard Wright introduction. This is about racial discrimination or racism, race, ethnicity, and color define one’s social position. Even now, it is evident that some people tend to discriminate others because of their color or origin. The most common case of racism is directed to the ‘blacks’, people with African origin. We know that these people were traded as slaves and were forced to work by the white western people way back in the 17th and 18th centuries. But when the call for equality surfaced, these people were slowly accepted in the ‘white’ world. However, there were still cases of racism which remain in various levels of the society. These are evident in Ralph Ellison’s ‘Battle Royal’ and Richard Wright’s ‘Big Black Good Man’.

We will write a custom essay sample on
‘Battle Royal’ by Ralph Ellison and ‘Big Black Good Man’ by Richard Wright
or any similar topic specifically for you
Do Not Waste
Your Time
SEND

By clicking "SEND", you agree to our terms of service and privacy policy. We'll occasionally send you account related and promo emails.

More Essay Examples on African American Rubric

            Battle Royal is about an unnamed young African American who is struggling to have a place in early twentieth century society. The story took place in the American South, where there is a large population of African Americans (Murphy).  On the other hand, Big Black Good Man is a story focusing on two men, the young black man Jim, and the old white man Olaf. Set in the far ends of Europe, this story is about the differences between the two men, not only in color, but also in their maleness and their goodness (Norvell). Looking closely at the two stories, we could see that there are several similarities and differences between them. Aside from the fact that they are both stories depicting racism or racial discrimination of black people, they also tackle matters concerning the society and the people living around them, and the lives that they’re living.

            In Battle Royal, discrimination is shown when the black males were forced to fight in a battle royal, an all-out boxing match which was set-up by white men. These are not just ordinary white men; they’re the ones who hold high positions in the society, so it is surprising to see that they get happiness from seeing these black people fight each other. The young black protagonist was invited to speak amongst these people only to find out that he’s pitted against other black males to fight in a battle royal. There were many instances of discrimination in this story, including the time when they were all standing around a white naked female, dancing and seducing them. During those times, it is taboo to look at white females in a sexual manner, so they weren’t in a good position that time.

            In Big Black Good Man, we can see discrimination in a more personal point of view. This is through Olaf’s point of view of Jim, who is a black sailor. Jim is said to be the blackest of black men, and that he is not brown, but blue-black. On the other hand, Olaf is a white old man who sees only the color of Jim, and not his true personality. Olaf’s assumption is that because Jim is absolutely black, and then there is no way that he could possibly be human – a racist assumption that leads to his disgust for the black man. He is seen as a brute beast that might kill him anytime he wishes. He also believes that for Jim, there is no need for a reason to kill, since violence is in his nature.

            Another focus of interest for both stories is their society and the people living in it. In the story Battle Royal, we see how the society is slowly accepting the existence of other races, but still it is centered on the whites. We can see how these white people were having fun with all the sufferings of the blacks as depicted by the battle royal fight. We can see that black people just like the protagonist were doing everything they can to gain social acceptance. They study hard in order to excel, yet the people in the society were the ones who limit their growth. Instead of giving him an equal chance for education, they send him to a sub-standard African American school. Despite this, the protagonist remains humble and thankful, accepting these people gave him.

            In the story Big Black Good Man, we can see how the society already moved towards equality, wherein blacks were not oppressed anymore, and have the right to live their lives to the fullest. Jim for one, is an accomplished man, wherein he can have any luxury he wants, and treats other people like Olaf equally. However, there are still those who can’t accept that the society has already moved to accept people like Jim. Olaf for one, never regarded Jim as an equal, and he hardly recognize him as a human. Even though Jim is much better-off in life as Olaf, he is still just a black, not a man, but a brute. This perception is a manifestation of how people weren’t able to fully accept the fact that the world is not only for the whites but also for the colored.

            Both stories have different endings, they were both able to depict the fate of the racially discriminated blacks. In the story Battle Royal, it was able to show how resilient our African American brothers are, wherein they were persistent enough to be successful, which is an important characteristic that they possessed ever since. In Big Black Good Man, Olaf was finally able to reconcile his differences with Jim, though he still sees him as a black man before his good characteristics. This just shows that discrimination in the society still exists, though it is of a different level than what it was before. Color is really skin deep, but it is really hard to change a mentality that has been established hundreds of years ago. It will remain, though, not the same.

Works Cited:

Murphy, Diane. “Ralph Ellison’s Use of Imagery In “Battle Royal””.  2007. March 8 2008. <http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/147149/ralph_ellisons_use_of_imagery_in_battle.html>.

Norvell, Candyce. “Critical Essay Of “Big Black Good Man””.  2005. March 8 2008. <http://www.answers.com/topic/big-black-good-man-story-7>.

 

Haven’t Found A Paper?

Let us create the best one for you! What is your topic?

By clicking "SEND", you agree to our terms of service and privacy policy. We'll occasionally send you account related and promo emails.

Haven't found the Essay You Want?

Get your custom essay sample

For Only $13/page

Eric from Graduateway Hi there, would you like to get an essay? What is your topic? Let me help you

logo