Ellison's King of the Bingo Game

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Ellison's King of the Bingo Game

Ellison's 'King of the Bingo Game' encompasses a variety of different implications that transform an otherwise sad short story into a political statement regarding racial injustice towards African Americans. Ellison's use of colors, slang phrases, names, irony, and his almost constant use of metaphor change otherwise meaningless sentences into poignant testimonial of disparity. This exceptional use of language, in conjunction to the hardships African American's faced at the time of the stories conception allow it to paint a picture of inequality and prejudice that insight insanity into the main character.

As the story begins Ellison?s main character, the man who remains nameless is described as poor, unemployed, and so desperate to buy his wife?s medicine that he is resolved to trying to win money on a bingo game. He believes that every man who lives a moral life, and works hard should be able to succeed, though it is obvious that his surroundings have failed him. His insatiable hunger is a reflection of how poor he actually is. He longs for the woman?s peanuts in front of him, wishing that he still lived in the south where solidarity holds groups of people together, and where everyone experiences the same hardships and help each other. This leads the reader to believe that the man is now living in the north, but the fact that he has no birth certificate explains where he originated. He was most likely born in North Carolina, the south, slave country, and it?s where he day dreams about and misses most. Slaves were not given birth certificates, and the fact that is never given a name in the story is intentional on Ellison?s part. Most slaves incorporated the last names of their owners into their own, completely disregarding and forgetting their own family lineage. His trip north from his slave background to free country leaves him nameless and unemployable, yet his pursuit of the American dream of freedom for all men keeps him motivated to continue his struggle there, no matter how unequal it is.

Ellison uses colors as well to ensure the reader understands who assumes power in the story. The projection machine makes a white beam, and specks of dust dance in its whiteness. Ellison writes that, ?They have it all fixed, everything was fixed.? It is safe to assume here that he?s not speaking about the projection scree...

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...power, recognition, and his own lack of meaning in his life make him unable to stop pushing the button. He is happier prolonging his temporary state of power than taking any chance that it could all end in disaster. He yells out, ?Live, Laura, babe. I got holt of it now, sugar. Live!? as his final grasps on reality fall away.

The story ends with examples of irony that apply to all men in his position of life. There is the obvious irony of him winning finally as the curtain comes crashing down on his head. Beyond that though there is the irony in the knowledge that the North seemed a place where anyone was free, but even a hard work ethic and persistent struggling will not allow for him to advance. Instead it will lead to heartache, anxiety, and ultimately insanity.

Ellison?s story is not about just one man. It is actually about an entire culture that even today is prejudged on skin color alone. Injustice and inequality are made to be ironic because they could so easily be switched around and used against the people who are prejudiced. Ellison seeks to show that they only way to advance is to take a chance and try, but that even with determination goals are often unattainable.
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