King of the Bingo Game
by Ralph Ellison
King of the Bingo Game Theme of Race
The theme of "Race" relates most strongly to the "Fate and Free Will" theme of this story. Given the protagonist's circumstances – as an African-American man in America before the Civil Rights era – his race has frequently defined his life opportunities and circumstances. "King of the Bingo Game" depicts the protagonist on a night that he vividly recalls the racial oppression he has been experiencing. The protagonist is able to momentarily escape his past and his situation by becoming "King."
Questions About Race
- To what extent does race play a role in the story?
- Can you tell which characters are white and which are black? How?
- How does the protagonist view his own race?
- Is the protagonist somehow closer to members of his own race? How does he view other African-Americans?
Chew on This
When the protagonist is talking about showing the whole world how to win, he is talking about showing the whole world how to transcend the narrow categories of race.
The protagonist feels completely disconnected from other African-Americans.