"King of the Bingo Game" deals with the issue of fate through the lens of race. The protagonist is a downtrodden African-American man who feels as though he has been finally given the opportunity to control his own destiny. This rapidly unravels, however. "King of the Bingo Game" raises the issue of how well a man can control his own destiny in an unfair system.
The movie suggests that the protagonist is doomed from the start – if "everything is fixed," it really doesn't matter that he attempts to alter his destiny vis-à-vis the bingo wheel.
"King of the Bingo Game" features a protagonist who experiences intense isolation. He is set apart from the other participants in the game both culturally and emotionally. As the story progresses, he is also set apart from them for his incredible revelation that he is unable to share. By the end of the story, we understand his isolation as operating both from a position of power and from a position of powerlessness. For, despite knowing this wonderful secret, the protagonist is only one man; he is ineffectual against the bigger system.
The bingo caller fails to recognize the protagonist as a person.
The protagonist tries his best to reach out to others in the bingo hall.
"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.
The protagonist is not insane.
The protagonist is insane.
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.
According to the larger rules governing the protagonist's society, the night could have had no other outcome.
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."
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.