Battle Royal Ralph Ellison Analysis

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Ralph Ellison and Amy Tan, both well-known American minority writers, explore the lives of the minority races in America in their notable works of fiction. For instance, in Ellison’s “Battle Royal” and Tan’s “Rules of the Game”, both stories taken from the writers’ novels, the narratives explore the experiences of a protagonist belonging to a minority group living in America. On surface, the minority experiences of the protagonists of the two stories seem dissimilar, with the invisible man in Ellison’s work facing blatant racial discrimination from the white Americans while Waverly in Tan’s work does not. Despite that, at their core both protagonists face the similar struggle between their desire to assimilate into the majority American culture…show more content…
It is the contention between their desire to assimilate and blend into the American culture with their duty to meet their families’ expectations, which ultimately defines both protagonists’ minority experience. In “Battle Royal,” the invisible man feels conflicted over his belief in obedience to the white superiors to achieve success in life, and his grandfather’s dying message to “keep up the good fight” (Ellison 342). Due to his upbringing and inexperience, the invisible man believes that only by following the wishes of the superior white men can he achieve respect and success in America. He thought that his grandfather, who was the “meekest of men,” was a role model (Ellison 342). Yet at his deathbed, his grandfather tells his family to “Live with your head in the lion's mouth” and “to overcome 'em with yeses…let 'em swoller you till they vomit or bust wide open" (Ellison 342). His grandfather wants them to wear two masks of identity, one on the outside to be the obedient servant in order to survive, while the other retaining the bitter resentment inside so as to deny their second-class citizenship. In addition, the grandfather “called himself a traitor and a spy…spoken of his meekness as a dangerous activity,” which greatly troubled the invisible man as it directly contradicts with his beliefs to assimilate…show more content…
The ensuing discord between Waverly and her mother alludes to the larger conflict between the two identities that Waverly holds. They are represented by her names, “Waverly Jong” her western American persona and “Mei Mei” her connection to her Chinese family and culture (Tan 469). Throughout the story, Waverly’s mother is her main connection to the Chinese culture as she tries to impart Chinese values and life lessons to her children in hopes of providing them with the necessary skills and knowledge of the “Rules of the Game,” the game that is life, to succeed in life. Some of these Chinese values include self-control, such as when she asks Waverly to “Bite back your tongue” for throwing her tantrum, as well as her most important lesson on the “art of invisible strength” which she compares to the power of the wind as even the “Strongest wind cannot be seen” (Tan 467-468). With these teachings, Waverly practices hard to pick-up skills and rules of chess which eventually enable her to become a national champion. She was able to, as she says, “rise above our circumstances” and achieve the American Dream, with some calling her “the Great American Hope, a child prodigy” along with having her photo featured in Life magazine (Tan 468, 473). However, though she utilizes her mother’s Chinese teachings to attain her chess achievements, in the course of it she begins embracing American values such as individualism which

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