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Literature & Language
Book Review
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The Battle Royal: A Short Story That Is Written By Ralph Ellison (Book Review Sample)


ASSIGNMENT: For this essay, you will be analyzing a theme, symbol, language, or structure of a text we have read so far for its larger social meaning. This assignment asks you to perform a close textual analysis. You may write about more than one text.


• Choose a passage (s) to analyze. Consider:

o What is happening in this passage?

o How is the author using language to create a condition for the protagonist’s life?

o How is symbolism or other kinds of figurative language being used to convey a message about society, humanity, race, sexuality and/or identity, or gender dynamics? o What is the larger social commentary being made through the text?

• DO NOT SUMMARIZE, or retell the incident.

• To begin, you must have a clearly developed thesis.

• Length—4-6 FULL pages

• Format-- 12-point Times New Roman, double-spaced.

• Follow MLA format.

• You must include a Work (s) Cited page

• Any attempts to plagiarize will receive the penalty of an “F” for the grade. I will not accept a rewrite.

Content: For your analysis, you need to present a balanced perspective supported by good evidence, which means details and proof of close textual reading. What's important to keep in mind is that in analyzing something, we're trying to make meaning out of it and to connect that meaning to our values, our identities, and our culture.

Perspective: Analysis entails interpretation, and interpretation is inevitably subjective as virtually anything can be interpreted in different ways. Your analysis must be balanced and objective. Consider differing perspectives, but prove your particular perspective by using evidence from the text.

Grade: Your paper will be graded primarily, though not exclusively, on the following:

• Depth of analysis

• Evidence

• Organization

• Grammar and Mechanics


Battle Royal by Ralph Ellison

The Battle Royal is a short story that is written by Ralph Ellison. It is a story that is set out in the South American region, at a time when racial profiling was rife. African Americans were treated with disdain coming from the slavery period where the African Americans were practically property to their white owners. Ralph had been born in the south and later on moves to Harlem in New York City. He compares the life that he had in the south and what he now experiences in the north. In the north, there is a bit of subtle differences relative to the fact that most of the whites seem to respect the African Americans unlike in the south (Ellison). However, it is clear that people judge the author on the streets relative to the skin color that he has. It is a story that amplifies the basic idea of an African American trying to fit in a society that is largely white. The author is very keen in bringing out the life of the protagonist in which is that of the African Americans with application of such figures of speech as symbolism.
The protagonist's life is represented in quite a rich figurative language that is used by the narrator. One of the first instances that the narrator brings to the audience the figurative language approach is when his grandfather is giving him his dying words. He instructed by the grandfather to keep up the good fight. This is a signal to the state of war that the African Americans were involved in with the whites. The grandfather mentions to the narrator that the life of the African Americans is a war and he wishes that the grandson will do better than he did (Ellison). The grandfather paints a picture of a war that is taking place between the African Americans and the whites in the search for equality between the two races. War or the state of war is used to signify the struggles that the African Americans are going through. More importantly, it is used to bring out the significance and intensity of the two races. For the better part of the century the African Americans had been struggling to achieve equality and reduce the incidences of mistreatment. Where they were considered lesser beings (Ellison).
It is also important to note that even the title of the short story depicts a battle. This is to signify that there is some element of fighting that is involved in the story ideally, the title signifies the struggle for equality that are African Americans have to endure to get to the level where they are treated as equals. It signifies that this q

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