King of the Bingo Game

by Ralph Ellison

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What is the point of the story "King of the Bingo Game" with regard to fate and free will?

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The story's point of view with regard to fate and free will is that one is not in charge of one's own fate and that free will is largely fictitious, whatever one might think.

The protagonist in the story certainly seems to think that he can control his fate by pressing the button that makes the wheel spin in the bingo game. Although he may be "King of the Bingo Game" for a brief period, that doesn't alter the fact that the man's fate—and that of his sick wife—is pretty much out of his hands.

What makes the protagonist's lack of free will even more stark is the fact that he's a Black man in a racist society that keeps African Americans in a state of permanent subjection. In such a society, where racism, bigotry, and white supremacy are all too commonplace, the very idea of a Black person being in control of their own destiny is ludicrous, to say the least. Society doesn't operate for the protagonist's benefit, rather like the bingo game itself.

Indeed, one could see the bingo game as a metaphor for the condition of Black America. On the surface, they have as much chance to win as everyone else. But in reality, the rules are rigged against them right from the start, so they are never able to compete on a level playing field.

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