Ralph Ellison

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Ralph Ellison's "King of the Bingo Game" starts by portraying a man who is sitting in a movie theatre watching a movie. This story is about how a young black man has come from North Carolina to a northern city and struggles to find a job because he does not have his birth certificate. This young black man is hoping that one day he wins enough money from the bingo game to pay for a doctor to save his wife, Laura. Ellison uses literary devices such as theme (North&South, Fate), symbolism (peanuts and wine), and irony to further develop the plot.

At the beginning of the story, the peanuts and wine symbolize the past. "The woman in front of him was eating roasted peanuts that smelled so good that he could barely contain his hunger". (Ellison p.443) The man is really hungry and he can smell the peanuts that the woman sitting in front of him is eating. Peanuts symbolize the past because in the south the man was able to ask a woman for a peanut and he would be given one. "There, on his right, two fellows were drinking wine out of a bottle wrapped in a paper bag, and he could hear soft gurgling in the dark" (Ellison p.444) The men sitting next to him are drinking wine and all he can think about is how hungry he is and how he wishes he was eating peanuts or drinking wine. As much as he desires that, he cannot get it because he has no money and his wife is sick. Ellison uses the wine and the peanuts to symbolize how he misses the past and what his current situation is. The peanuts and the wine are mentioned in the story to depict the differences between the North and the South. Ellison uses this as the opening to show the readers where he is located and how desperate his situation is at that moment.

The theme of "Race" and "North vs. South" are strongly depicted in Ellison's story. The man is an African American man in America so his race plays a big part in his freedom and in all the actions he could possibly take. "I'm just broke, 'cause I got no...
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