The grandfather’s advice on his deathbed disturbs the members of the family because he speaks of war. The grandfather talks about an enemy in the white man, and fighting him through subtle ways. The family is afraid because they don’t want trouble and they know the grandfather’s words are just that. The family thinks that being accepted by their white neighbors is good because it means they are doing the right thin. The grandfather tells them that this behavior is only necessary to delude the white man into a level of comfort. When the white man is in that state of comfort, then sweeping changes can be made to the roles of people in the country.
Clowns are characters of ridicule. The dress up in funny clothes and put on makeup to change the color of their faces, and run around doing silly acts. Clowns are not taken seriously, and are considered to be foolish. They are a slapstick, comic relief. A person can be called a clown by exhibiting silly behavior, but a true clown is usually identified by the outfit. The grandfather does not laugh at the clowns at the circus, because he understands the role of a clown. In the circus of life, he has been considered a clown because of the color of his skin. His natural outfit is considered by the white people be more clown-like than of a man. He knows that white people treat black people as clowns, and do not take them seriously. The whole “Battle Royal” uses young black men for entertainment purposes. The grandfather knows this attitude of white people for he has lived his whole life with it, therefore he cannot laugh the clowns. To laugh at them would be like laughing at himself and everything he fought for his whole life. To laugh at the clowns would be laughing at his whole race. To laugh at the clowns would mean that he was just not agreeing with the attitude of the white man, but believing it also.