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King of the Bingo Game

King of the Bingo Game

by Ralph Ellison

Madness Theme

"King of the Bingo Game" takes the position that you can find truth in madness. It's as though the protagonist went through an intense experience and discovered the meaning of life, only this was a hunger, depression, and liquor-induced mental experience, and he discovered what it was like to feel in control of his own destiny for the first time. Unfortunately, to the outside eye, this looks a lot like insanity. This story suggests there's something about the extreme nature of insanity that allows its possessor insights otherwise hidden from view.

Questions About Madness

  1. How does the story alternate between the protagonist's madness and the reality of the movie hall?
  2. What elements combine to push the protagonist toward insanity?
  3. Pay attention to the language Ellison uses for the protagonist's descent into madness. Does it make sense? How can you tell what is happening the protagonist?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

The protagonist is not insane.

The protagonist is insane.

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