King of the Bingo Game

King of the Bingo Game @2024 by S. Christopher James

“King of the Bingo Game” by Ralph Ellison is a powerful short story about a nameless, destitute Black man who participates in a bingo game in the hopes of winning money to help his sick wife, Laura. Set in a movie theater, the story delves into themes of fate, identity, and systemic oppression.

During the game, he wins the preliminary round and gets a chance to spin the wheel for the grand prize. As he holds the button to spin the wheel, he experiences a sense of power and control that is otherwise absent in his life. However, his attempt to prolong this feeling results in chaos. The wheel spins endlessly, and the theater staff intervenes, forcibly removing him from the stage. Ultimately, his fleeting moment of empowerment ends in failure, underscoring the harsh realities and systemic barriers he faces in a racially biased society.

“King of the Bingo Game” was a short story I read in grade school, and of all the literature I encountered, it stuck with me the most. Short stories seldom receive visual interpretations, so I decided to create my own depiction of the main character and the complexity of his situation.

This won a Silver Award and will be featured in the Graphis 2025 Poster Annual.

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