King of the Bingo Game by Ralph Ellison
In his short story “King of the Bingo Game,” Ralph Ellison describes a very specific moment in the life of an African American who lives in the USA in the late 1930s. The man trying to take control over his life hopes to win in a bingo game. He is lucky and invited to attempt to win the jackpot, which becomes the point of a myriad of feelings and thoughts. He understands that the odds to win are higher when the button is pushed quickly, but his wounded self cannot let go (Ellison 89). The man who has to go through the hardships of discrimination, unemployment, misery, sad love story, and humiliation feels the might of the wheel.
Onstage, he discovers a truly wonderful thing as he feels almighty because it is he who is in complete control of the wheel. He also sees the reaction of the crowd, which makes him keep pushing instead of letting go. The man who had to obey and follow was the omnipotent person. The protagonist enjoyed the way the crowd yelled since he felt their helplessness. The main character of the story is no more helpless, but the rest of the people in the hall are.
At the same time, the man cannot possibly let go as that will be the moment of his turning into a life of misery. He is afraid of letting go due to his fear of losing. He wants to win, or rather he thinks he must win. The other option is likely to mean the end of his life. Hence, he does not let go even when the police arrive or even when he is about to lose his consciousness. The protagonist wants to hold the moment and remain in complete control forever.
Ellison, Ralph. “King of the Bingo Game.” The Norton Introduction to Literature, 13th ed., edited by Kelly J. Mays, W.W. NORTON & Company, 2018, pp. 84-91.