Zen Buddhism Essay Research Paper In

Zen Buddhism Essay, Research Paper

In Battle Royal, Ellison uses details of setting to create the

mood of horror and repulsion. The horror begins when the narrator

listens to a conversation between his father and grandfather, as

his grandfather lay on his death bed. Son, after I m gone I want

you to keep up the good fight. I never told you, but our life is

a war and I have been a traitor all my born days, a spy in the

enemy s country ever since I give up my gun back in the

Reconstruction. Live with your head in the lion s mouth. I want

you to overcome em with yeses, undermine em with grins, agree

em to death and destruction, let em swoller you till they vomit

or bust wide open (256). This statement had a great effect on

the narrator, although he wasn t quite sure what it meant. It set

a sense of fear in him. And whenever things went well for me I

remember my grandfather and felt guilty and uncomfortable. It was

as though I was carrying out his advice in spite of myself (257).

The narrator didn t plan on taking his grandfather s advice, and

each time he found himself doing exactly that, it made him feel

guilty. I felt guilt that in some way I was doing something that

was really against the wishes of the white folks (257). This

continued path of fear and hatred are carried out throughout the


Ellison gives the reader the idea of hatred and horror when

he sets the scene in the ballroom of the hotel. This is where the

Battle Royal was to take place. The battle room was filled with

smoke and in the center was the portable boxing ring that was to

be used for the fight. On three sides of the ring, chairs were

placed for the audience to observe the battle. These audience

members were that of an upper-class status, …bankers, lawyers,

judges, doctors, fire chiefs, teachers, merchants. Even one of

the more fashionable pastors (258). To top it off, they were all

white as well. Each of them arrived in tuxedos …wolfing down

the buffet foods, drinking beer and whiskey and smoking black

cigars (257). Ellison was taking us into the scene to show us

the intimidation the narrator felt as he saw the audience

members. It was extremely terrifying for the narrator.

After the fighters were ordered to the ring, they were to be

blindfolded. This gave the narrator a sense of fear and horror

that he was not used to. He didn t like the darkness and the

unknowing of what lied ahead. …I felt a sudden fit of terror.

I was unused to darkness. It was as though I had suddenly found

myself in a dark room filled with poisonous cottonmouths (259).

One of the audience members spoke to the narrator, See that boy

over there?…I want you to run across at the bell and give it to

him right in the belly. If you don t get him, I m going to get

you (259). This was told to the other fighters as well. Not one

person in the audience felt any sympathy for the boys. One

yelled, I want to get that ginger-colored nigger. Tear him limb

from limb (259). Others were kicking chairs and causing quite a

commotion. This put an even greater horrifying feeling in the

narrator. I wanted to see, to see more desperately than ever

before (260). The blindfold was not allowing this. All it was

doing was taking away what dignity he had.

After the battle was complete, the portable ring was taken

away and a small rug with coins, bills, and gold pieces was put

in its place. Each of the fighters were told to sit around the

rug as though they were of another species, perhaps from another

planet. This set a sense of excitement in each of them, but at

the same time they feared what was to come. Once the narrator

heard the word Go (262) he went straight for the goods. I

lunged for a yellow coin lying on the blue design of the carpet,

touching it and sending a surprised shriek to join those rising

around me. I tried frantically to remove my hand but could not

let go. A hot, violent force tore through my body, shaking me

like a wet rat. The rug was electrified (262-3). This didn t

stop the crowd from yelling obscenities at the boys. Pick it up,

goddamnit, pick it up!…Go on, get it (263). This made the boys

feel as though they had to do what was said, they feared the

crowd more than they feared the electricity of the rug. Ellison

uses this scene to show the repulsion the audience felt toward

the fighters and the fear the fighters had of them.

Throughout this story, Battle Royal, Ellison creates a

mood of horror and repulsion toward the black fighters,

especially toward the narrator. From the first scene next to the

grandfather s death bed, to the money on the rug. He takes his

readers to the fight to see just what s taking place, not only in

the mind of the narrator, but in the minds of the upper-class

white folks as well. By describing to the readers the details of

each scene, he gives them a chilling sense of what it s like to

be horrified and hated.


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