Blindness is defined as the lack of visual perception. Blindness can also be defined as not being able to see things for what they really are. One may be able to see but may not be able to see the true meaning of something. Black communities often refuse to see the way that white people treat them. In Ralph Ellison’s novel Invisible Man many events contribute to the overall theme of sight vs. blindness.
The Battle Royal is a scene in the novel that contributes to the theme of sight vs. blindness. The narrator is asked to give his speech to the white leaders of the community. He and some of his classmates are invited to a local hotel to give his speech. While there the white leaders make the black students participate in a fight called the Battle Royal.
The narrator and the other students are forced to wear blindfolds. After they are blindfolded they are suppose to fight each other. The narrator tries to push the blindfold away but one of the white men argues, “Oh, no you don’t, black bastard! Leave that alone!” (22).With the blindfolds on the boys are blind to the fact that they are beating each other up for the white men’s entertainment. They are blind to the fact that they are being made fun of. By being blindfolded the boys become powerless and demoralized. After having the blindfold forced upon him the narrator comments, “Blindfolded, I could no longer control my motions. I had no dignity. I stumbled about like a baby or a drunken man” (22). The Battle Royal deals with the black men’s inability to see how the white men treat them.
If the narrator and the boys did not have the blindfolds on they would realize that they are being used as entertainment and they would not beat each other up. Blindfolded the boys do not realize the men are making fun of them and betting on which black boy will win. Taking the blindfold off the narrator is confused about whether or not to continue fighting. The narrator hears one of the white men say that he is betting on the big boy and the narrator reasons, “Hearing this I almost dropped my guard. I was confused: Should I try to win against the voice out there? Would not this go against my speech, and was not this a moment of humility, for nonresistance?” (25). After taking off his blindfold the narrator can see that fighting each other is wrong, he has come to this place to make a speech. By fighting each other the black boys are going against the narrator’s speech. The white men throw coins on an electrified rug and make the boys retrieve the coins. After gathering the coins the narrator notes, “I was overjoyed; I did not even mind when I discovered that the gold pieces I had scrambled for where brass pocket token advertising a certain make of an automobile” (32). Even though the narrator took the blindfold off, he does not entirely see that the white men think of him as inferior.
Blindfolded the boys could not see what the white men were making them do. After they take the blindfolds off the...