forum question 164

Access to higher education is a defining feature of the American Dream. In Ralph Ellison’s “Battle Royal,” the humiliation of the “battle royal” becomes a necessary evil, a hurdle the narrator has to leap over in order to win a college scholarship. What is humiliating about the battle royal experience (may be more than one thing)? How does this pervert the narrator’s access to higher education and thus “the American Dream”?

example from last week’s question:Similar to what was discussed in the crash courses, what class you’re born into tends to be the one you stay in growing up. People in the lower class, according to crash course, often are more involved in crime. The plot of “Barn Burning” includes events of crime and unstable jobs for Abners family. Faulkner writes, “‘It cost a hundred dollars. But you never had a hundred dollars. You never will’” (p. 342). The landowner says this to Abnur when deciding what his punishment should be for ruining and not being able to fix the rug. The landowner doesn’t make him pay the full one hundred dollars, because he knows he won’t ever be able to pay him back. This story shows how a family who is stuck in the lower class can’t move their way up because they are doing the jobs that won’t ever give them enough money to move their way up. They don’t have the opportunity to get a job that makes more money. The story wants us to recognize how the kid is stuck in this household where bad decisions continue to get made and he has no way out of his class structure because he was born into it. The story ends with, “He went on down the hill, toward the dark woods within which the liquid silber voices of the birds called unceasing- the rapid and urgent beating of the urgent and quiring heart of the late spring night. He did not look back” (p. 347). As the kid runs into the woods, I can’t help but think his life will lead to him just finding another low paying job. He doesn’t have guidance as a young kid. Which is why I am criticizing how the class system in America works.

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