King of the Bingo Game
by Ralph Ellison
King of the Bingo Game Race Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Paragraph)
"Anybody can win the jackpot as long as they get the lucky number, right?"
"That's the rule, but after all…" (61-62)
This exchange carries some interesting racial undertones. Anybody can win the jackpot, implying that it is open to all. At the same time, however, the bingo caller's reply contains clear hesitation, setting up the protagonist's ultimate defeat later when, despite technically winning the jackpot, he is deprived of his rightful prize.
And because he understood, he smiled again to let the man know that he held nothing against him for being white and impatient. (65)
This indicates that the protagonist has mentally transcended racial boundaries.
All the Negroes down there were just ashamed because he was black like them. He smiled inwardly, knowing how it was. Most of the time he was ashamed of what Negroes did himself. (65)
The protagonist empathizes with the other African-Americans for experiencing the same self-loathing that he does for being ashamed of being black. This line demonstrates the protagonist as having transcended thoughts about race, however. There is a detachment to the passage – the protagonist knows "how it was," but is now in a new mindset.