King of the Bingo Game
by Ralph Ellison
King of the Bingo Game Theme of Rules and Order
The world of "King of the Bingo Game" is governed by a grossly unfair set of rules that the protagonist eventually attempts to break. We're talking social rules, legal rules, unspoken rules, and even rules as specific as those of a simple bingo game. It's likely that those very bingo rules serve as a proxy for the rules of a white-dominated society; if this is the case, then the story illustrates the tremendous difficulty of attempting to break free of those rules during the time of the story.
Questions About Rules and Order
- What rules govern the bingo game? Which of those rules are actually followed?
- By refusing to let go of the button on the spinning wheel, is the protagonist actually breaking a rule or merely trying to subvert the game? Is there a difference?
- How does the bingo caller uphold the rules of the game?
- Can you identify larger rules governing the society the story takes place in?
Chew on This
According to the larger rules governing the protagonist's society, the night could have had no other outcome.