In the short story "Battle Royal" by Ralph Ellison, the narrator's inner conflict stems from what his grandfather told him and what he instinctively believes to be true. His social conflict comes from living in a society that does not agree with him, and struggling to find his place in society. The young black man's Grandfather, before dying, is the one who gave this advice that would affect this mans life style.
The young man was always told by his parents to forget his words, but he just couldn't. They where like a curse not only to him but to his family as well.These words caused him so much anxiety. The life he lived was basically through his Grandfather's words, he didn't know any other way.
He lived fighting for what he wanted and he acted a certain way to white's, just to assure them that he knew his place in life. If he acted any different way they didn't like that at all. The whites didn't see him as a human being, they just see him and all the other blacks as the young man says, 'invisible. ' Those words are as follows; “But my grandfather is the one. He was an odd old guy, my grandfather, and I am told I take after him.
It was he who caused the trouble. On his deathbed he called my father to him and said, "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.
" They thought the old man had gone out of his mind.He had been the meekest of men. The younger children were rushed from the room, the shades drawn and the flame of the lamp turned so low that it sputtered on the wick like the old man's breathing. "Learn it to the younguns," he whispered fiercely; then he died. ” This advice given caused so much anxiety in his life, he would give speeches that he didn't even believe in just to keep the white's thinking that he knew his place in life. Most things he did in life before figuring the advice out cause him nothing but guilt and being in uncomfortable positions.
We know that the narrator is on a journey because very early in the story he tells us, "All my life I was looking for something, and every were that I turned someone tried to tell me what it was. I accepted their answers too, though they were often in contradiction". Here we see how, as a young man, the narrator was not confident enough with his own thoughts and opinions, so he listens to what others had to say. However, every time he does this, he is thrown off course to discover who he is.His realization that what people tell him often contradictory is a first step toward his growth.
However, it takes the narrator awhile to realize who he is. This is an example of the inner conflict that causes him guilt for many years. " The speech is a symbolic representation of the fight initiated by the African community for equality. The symbolic representation of the speech delivered by a young man in front of some prestigious white individuals, portray the psychological development among the colonizers to listen to the colonized.At the same time as the young man undergoes harsh treatments, there is a realization of his adamant attitude to face hurdles to attain equality. This adamant attitude to face hardships symbolizes the tug between the African American people.
The struggles and the fights for Liberty, Equality and Fraternity are well expressed through the speech. There cannot be any denial to the fact that the young man tried to deliver his speech in a positive and under normal environment, but was instigated to react by harsh behavior of the listeners. The way the young man faces and competes in the battle royal, is truly admirable.