55 pages 1 hour read

Ralph Ellison

King of the Bingo Game

Fiction | Short Story | Adult | Published in 1944

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“King of the Bingo Game”

  • Genre: Fiction; short story; African American literature
  • Originally Published: 1944
  • Reading Level/Interest: Grades 9-12; college/adult
  • Structure/Length: Approximately 14 pages; approximately 21 minutes on audio
  • Protagonist/Central Conflict: The unnamed protagonist, a desperate African American man from the South living in the North during the 1940s, believes his fate depends on winning a movie theater bingo game. The story examines themes of fate, desperation, and the illusion of control in the face of social and racial discrimination.
  • Potential Sensitivity Issues: Racial discrimination; poverty; despair; brief violence

Ralph Ellison, Author

  • Bio: Born 1913; died 1994; African American writer and literary critic; born in Oklahoma City and educated at Tuskegee Institute; works explore themes of racial and social identity; debut novel Invisible Man is considered a classic of American literature; received numerous honors and awards for his contribution to literature
  • Other Works: Invisible Man (1952); Shadow and Act (1964); Juneteenth (1999)

CENTRAL THEMES connected and noted throughout this Teaching Guide:

  • The Great Migration and Dislocation Between North and South
  • Dostoevsky’s Underground Man and The Rejection of Social Norms
  • Invisible Man and African Americans Coming of Age Through Existential Crisis

STUDY OBJECTIVES: In accomplishing the components of this Guide, students will:

  • Develop an understanding of the historical and literary contexts regarding the effect of The Great Migration on the development of the Harlem Renaissance in early-20th-century American history, which impacts the development of Ellison’s characterization.

Related Titles

By Ralph Ellison

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Ralph Ellison
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