"Battle Royal" became the first chapter of Invisible Man (1952), with some changes. The quotation below is from the prologue to the novel. Consider this quotation as you think about the short story--focus on the opening paragraph.
Narrator: "I am an invisible man. [. . .] Like the bodiless heads you see sometimes in circus sideshows, it is as though I have been surrounded by mirrors of hard, distorting glass. When they [people] approach me they see only my surroundings, themselves, or figments of their imagination--indeed, everything and anything except me."
Also, consider this last line from the chapter in Ellison's novel, right after the grandfather's laughing. (It is not included at the end of the story in our book, but I read this in class):
(It was a dream I was to remember and dream again for many years after. But at that time I had no insight into its meaning. First I had to attend college.)
An important reference in "Battle Royal" is Booker T. Washington--pg 287. You might look up Booker T. Washington, whose key work is Up from Slavery (1901). Also, see pg 298. What does it suggest when the narrator sees himself as "a potential Booker T. Washington"? What would the narrator's grandfather say?