What is the symbolic significance of the wheel in King of the Bingo Game?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In the story, the wheel is a part of the bingo game. Inside the wheel there are lots of balls, each with a different number printed onto it. As the wheel is spun, the balls, one by one, emerge from the wheel. The people playing the game have cards with...

Unlock
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your 48-Hour Free Trial

In the story, the wheel is a part of the bingo game. Inside the wheel there are lots of balls, each with a different number printed onto it. As the wheel is spun, the balls, one by one, emerge from the wheel. The people playing the game have cards with different numbers printed on them, and the winner is the person who can match the numbers on his or her card with the numbers that emerge from the bingo wheel.

The main character in the story plays the bingo game hoping to win the cash prize, which he intends to use to pay for a doctor to treat somebody named Laura, who we might assume is his wife. The wheel, therefore, represents luck, or fortune. It is a version of the Wheel of Fortune from medieval philosophy, which symbolized the volatile nature of fate.

The main character says that he "felt vaguely that his whole life was determined by the bingo wheel." The wheel, symbolizing luck, or chance, or possibly fate, seems to have complete control over his life. He even refers to it as God, declaring that "This is God! This is the really truly God!"

The main character realizes that he has the card with the numbers that match the numbers from the bingo wheel. He is then invited onto the stage where he must press a button to spin the wheel one more time. If the wheel stops on a double zero, he will win the big cash prize. At this point in the story, our main character feels like he has his fate in his own hands, and this idea seems to immobilize him.

The point of the story, and of the wheel which symbolizes fate, or luck, is that so many people don't feel like they have any control over their lives. They invest all hope in a game of chance. And when, for perhaps just a brief and fleeting moment they do have their fate in their own hands, they are too dumbfounded and stunned by the magnitude of the opportunity to take charge of it.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team