King of the Bingo Game Style and Technique

Ralph Ellison

Style and Technique

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

“King of the Bingo Game” is written in a naturalistic style and from a third-person, limited point of view. The first technique reinforces the gritty, realistic quality of the story, and the second puts the reader in the place of the protagonist and helps the reader to experience the confusion that he feels.

A naturalistic style dictates that a writer describe the physical reality of a scene, such as the first detail noted in the story, the smell of the peanuts that makes the protagonist hungry. Throughout the story, physical details predominate—the feeling of whiskey moving through the protagonist’s body, the blinding lights, the odor of the announcer’s hair oil, all compel the reader to see, feel, and even smell what the protagonist is experiencing.

The third-person, limited point of view conveys information about the story as it is seen by only one person, but allows Ellison to use language that that character himself would not use, unlike the first-person point of view, in which the vocabulary of the story must be that of the main character. The use of this technique means that the reader experiences the same feelings of bewilderment and excitement that the protagonist does, but they are presented in language more vivid than he himself might use. Because the protagonist does not feel himself to be a part of the world that he inhabits, the movie house, its patrons, and the procedure of the bingo game are a welter of disconnected...

(The entire section is 491 words.)